January 21, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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Scientists blow models of stars into a virtual black hole to see who will survive

Looks like an eight-star skirt Black hole 1 million times the mass of the Sun in this giant computer simulation. As they approach, they are all pulled and deformed by the black hole’s gravitational pull. Some dissolve completely in a long stream of gas, a catastrophic event called tidal turbulence. Others were only partially blocked, retaining some of their mass and returning to their normal size after their terrifying encounters.

Watch eight model stars expand and warp as they approach a hypothetical black hole one million times the mass of the Sun. The black hole rips some of the stars apart and turns them into a stream of gas, a phenomenon called tidal decay. Others are able to handle their close encounters. These simulations show that mortality and survival depend on the initial density of the stars. Yellow represents the highest intensity while blue represents the lowest intensity. attributed to him: NASAGoddard Space Flight Center/Tahoe Rio (MPA)

This simulation, led by Tahoe Rio, a fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany, is the first to combine the physical effects of Einstein’s general theory of relativity with realistic stellar density models. Hypothetical stars have a mass of one tenth to ten times the mass of the Sun.

The split between perfectly finite stars and the rest stars is not just about mass. Instead, existence depends more on the star’s density.

In this image, from left to right, there are four images of a hypothetical sun-like star approaching a black hole a million times the mass of the sun. The star swells, loses some of its mass, and then begins to regain its shape as it moves away from the black hole. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Tahoe Rio (MPA)

Ryo and his team also investigated how other features, such as the weights of different black holes and the proximity of stars, affect tidal events. The results will help astronomers estimate how often tidal disturbances occur in space, and help them create more accurate images of these catastrophic cosmic events.

Reference: “Tidal perturbation of main-sequence stars. Observable quantities and their dependence on star masses and black holes,” I. Taeho Ryu, Julian Krolic, Tswi Piran and Scott C. Noble, 25 November 2021, Available here. Astrophysical JournalAnd
DOI: 10.3847 / 1538-4357 / abb3cf

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