Black Hole Destroys Massive Star
Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
· Tidal disruption animation: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA/GESTAR)
· Black hole illustration with spectrum: NASA/CXC/Univ of Michigan/J. Miller et al.; Illustration: M.Weiss
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A collage of photos depict planets, stars, galaxies and other aspects of outer space.
Logo, News From the Universe.
Text, August 31, 2023. Black Hole Destroys Massive Star. Animation.
A spherical star which glows with bright golden light spins. Text, Astronomers returned to the scene of a star's destruction to investigate its back story.
The star came too close to a supermassive black hole and was torn apart by its gravity, an event called a tidal disruption.
The star breaks apart. Its yellow, hot light swirls around and enters the black hole.
Text, The relative amount of nitrogen to carbon at the site points to the doomed star having about three times the mass of the Sun, one of the most massive tidally disrupted stars ever observed. Illustration. A graph depicts X-ray brightness versus wavelength. As wavelengths increase, X-ray brightness also increases. Carbon's wavelength measures around 34. Its brightness measures around 20. Nitrogen's wavelength measures around 24 and its brightness around 8. Text, The result is exciting because measuring the original mass of a tidally disrupted star has proved difficult in the past.
Until this study, it was possible that the elements observed in X-rays came from previous black hole eruptions.
Swirls of orange, purple and yellow light circle around a black hole.
Text, The pattern, however, appears to have come from a single star.
This news was brought to you in part by the Chandra X-Ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.