Stars that get to close to supermassive black holes will encounter savage tidal forces which tear them into pieces, forcing the release of a flare of radiation as the material is absorbed by the black hole.
A new study elaborated by a team of astronomers confirms that the debris will form a disk around the black hole, which is known as an accretion disk. Some debates were focused on the way in which an accretion disk can form during a tidal disruption event, and the new information provides a solution to the dilemma.
According to the classical theory on tidal disruption events, the flare is fueled by an accretion disk, which releases X-ray radiation that comes from a region where gas falls into the black hole. The lack of X-ray emissions prompted some astronomers to argue that emissions come from stellar debris streams.
The new study offers conclusive proof, which shows that accretion disks do form during the events, even if no X-ray emissions are observed, confirm a theoretical model published by the same team in 2018, which explained while X-rays aren’t observed during TDEs.
Spectroscopic observations of a TED event spotted for the first time in 2018 revealed an unusual spectrum during a measurement taken January 1, 2019. The hydrogen line featured a double-peak profile, which wasn’t observed in the case of previous events.
The effect can be compared to the way in which the noise made by a racing car varies when it closer to you or at a distance. Several telescopes were focused on the TDE event as the team gathered more information. Data collected during this step infers that the accretion disk forms at a fast pace.
Further research will take place in the future, and the current results have been published in a scientific journal.