Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2015 October 28
Explanation: What happens when a star gets too close to a black hole? Recent observations from Earth-orbiting observatories of an event dubbed ASASSN-14li, in a distant galactic centre, appears to be giving one star's harrowing story. Although angularly unresolved, variations in high energy light indicate that some of the star became shredded and reformed into a disk swirling around the dark abyss. In the hypothesized scenario envisioned, a jet formed on the spin axis of the black hole. The innermost part of the disk, coloured white, glows most strongly in X-rays and may drive a periodic wind, shown in blue. Future X-ray and ultraviolet observations of stellar disruptions by black holes -- including those in the centre of our own galaxy -- hold promise of telling us about the complex dynamics of some of the hottest and highest-gravity places in the universe.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.