Disordered eating habits can reveal an elusive black hole CNN

Disordered eating habits can reveal an elusive black hole  CNN

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Black holes have a reputation for snacking on stars, but some of these celestial debris disposals may be messier than others, according to new research.

Astrophysicists used 3D computer models to show that intermediate-mass black holes take a few bites from an en route star before throwing off stellar fragments and leaving a cosmic trail.

The researchers made the discovery while running simulations on black holes of various masses and passing Sun-sized stars past them. Clues from the experiment could help astronomers find intermediate-mass black holes by looking for evidence of their behaviors.

During the simulation, the intermediate-mass black hole pulled the star into its orbit, and every time the star makes another lap, the black hole takes another bite out of it. When only the star’s dense, fuzzy core remained, the black hole ripped it apart and sent it flying across the galaxy.

A study describing the modeling analysis has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal, and the findings will be presented Tuesday at the April meeting of the American Physical Society.

“We obviously can’t observe black holes directly because they don’t emit light,” said lead study author Fulya Kiroglu, a doctoral student in astrophysics. at Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in Evanston, Illinois, in a statement. She is also a member of the university’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics.

“So, instead, we have to look at interactions between black holes and their environments. We find that stars go through multiple paths before exiting. After each passage, they lose more matter, causing a flare of light (that is). tore up Each flare is brighter than the last, creating a signature that can help astronomers find them.”

Astronomers are still trying to prove whether intermediate-mass black holes exist in the first place. The elusive celestial bodies, estimated to be between 3 and 10 times the mass of our Sun, are created when exploding stars collapse.

A cluster of intermediate-mass black holes is thought to be in between that a Supermassive black holes and very low mass black holes. At the center of most large galaxies is a supermassive black hole and may be millions to billions of times the mass of our Sun.

“His presence is still under discussion,” Kiroglu said. “Astrophysicists have found evidence that they exist, but that evidence can often be explained by other mechanisms. For example, what appears to be an intermediate-mass black hole may actually be an accretion of stellar-mass black holes.”

During the 3D modeling experiment, the stars were able to complete up to five orbits around the intermediate-mass black hole before being ejected. With each pass, the star gradually loses more mass as it rips apart. The debris was ejected back into the Milky Way at the speed of darkness—enough to create a bright light pattern that astronomers could see in their search for proof of the existence of an invisible medium-mass black hole.

“It’s amazing that the star hasn’t completely torn apart,” Kiroglu said. “Some stars can get lucky and survive the event. The ejection speed is so high that these stars can be identified as hyper-velocity stars, which have been observed at the centers of galaxies.”

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