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The universe as we know is not a quiet place but an arena of explosions and bangs. Where creation and destruction are everyday happenings. One such event is a Tidal Disruption Event (TDE).
In the news, MIT astronomers have discovered a new tidal disruption event in infrared, providing insights into how supermassive black holes rip apart passing stars. This newly found TDE, labeled WTP14adbjsh, is the closest one observed to date, located in the NGC 7392 galaxy about 137 million light-years from Earth. The discovery highlights that traditional X-ray and optical surveys may miss TDEs in star-forming galaxies due to dust obscuring the light. By searching in the infrared band, scientists can reveal previously hidden TDEs in active, star-forming galaxies, offering a complete picture of black holes and their host galaxies.
What Tidal Disruption Event (TDE) exactly is?
A tidal disruption event (TDE) is a phenomenon that occurs when a star gets too close to a supermassive black hole, resulting in the gravitational force of the black hole stretching and tearing apart the star. As a result, a bright and energetic flare of radiation is emitted as the star’s material is pulled into the black hole.
When a star comes close to a black hole, it experiences a tidal force that causes it to elongate along its axis of attraction. As the star gets closer, the tidal force becomes stronger, eventually exceeding the star’s internal gravitational force, causing it to be torn apart. The debris from the star forms a stream that falls onto the black hole’s accretion disk, where it heats up and emits intense radiation, including X-rays and ultraviolet light.
TDEs are rare and difficult to detect because they occur in the centers of galaxies, where a lot of dust and gas can obscure the view. However, they can provide important insights into the properties of supermassive black holes and the dynamics of their surrounding environments. Studying TDEs can also help astronomers understand how stars and black holes interact and evolve over time.