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Scientists are throwing model stars into a virtual black hole to see who survives

Watch eight star skirt a Black hole 1 million times the mass of the Sun in this giant computer simulation. As they approach, everyone is stretched and distorted by the black hole’s gravitational pull. Some are completely broken up into a long stream of gas, a catastrophic phenomenon called a tidal turbulence event. Others are only partially damaged, retaining some of their mass and returning to their normal shape after their horrific encounters.
Watch eight star models expand and warp as they approach a hypothetical black hole a million times the mass of the Sun. The black hole rips some stars into a stream of gas, a phenomenon called a tidal perturbation event. Others managed to withstand their close encounters. These simulations show that destruction 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 / Taiho Rio (MPA)

This simulation, led by Taihu Ryu, 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. The mass of hypothetical stars ranges from about one tenth to 10 times the mass of the Sun.

The split between stars that break out completely and those that last isn’t about mass. Instead, survival depends more on the star’s density.

Scientists throw model stars into a virtual black hole

From left to right, this illustration shows four shots of a hypothetical sun-like star approaching a black hole a million times the mass of the sun. The star expands and loses some of its mass, then begins to regain its shape as it moves away from the black hole. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Taiho Rio (MPA)

Rio and his team also investigated how other properties, such as the masses of different black holes and stellar proximity, affect tidal disturbance events. The results will help astronomers estimate how often full tidal perturbations occur in the universe and will help them build more accurate pictures of these tragic cosmic events.

Reference: “Tidal perturbations of main-sequence stars. 1. Observable quantities and their dependence on stellar hole mass and blackness” by Taihu Rio, Julian Krulik, Zvi Beran and Scott C. Noble, November 25, 2021, Astrophysical Journal.
DOI: 10.3847 / 1538-4357 / abb3cf

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