Medium-sized black holes eat stars like messy toddlers

New 3D computer simulations created by graduate student Fulya Kıroğlu show the eating habits of intermediate-mass black holes, which have yet to be discovered in observations. When a star approaches an intermediate-mass black hole, it initially gets caught in the black hole’s orbit. Every time the star makes a lap, the black hole takes a bite — further cannibalizing the star with each passage. Eventually, nothing is left but the star’s misshapen core. At that point, the black hole ejects the remains, and the star’s remnant flies to safety across the galaxy.

Kıroğlu is a graduate student in Northwestern’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and a member of CIERA.

Read the full CIERA news story here.

Credit: Fulya Kiroglu/Northwestern/CIERA

  • Science