What is a tidal disruption event?

Source: The post is based on the article “What is a tidal disruption event?” published in The Hindu on 1st January,2023

What is the News?

Telescopes operated by NASA recently observed a massive black hole devouring a star. The incident was the fifth-closest example of a black hole destroying a star and occurred 250 million light-years from the earth in the centre of another galaxy.

This astronomical phenomenon of the destruction of a star by a black hole is formally called a Tidal disruption event(TDE).

What is a Tidal Disruption Event(TDE)?

A Tidal Force is the difference in the strength of gravity between two points. If the tidal force exerted on a body is greater than the intermolecular force that keeps it together, the body will get disrupted.

During a Tidal Disruption Event(TDE), the tidal force of a black hole disrupts the star in the vicinity. While about half of the star’s debris continues on its original path, the other half is attracted by the black hole’s gravitational pull. The gradual growth of this material bound to the black hole produces a short-lived flare of emission known as a Tidal Disruption Event.

What is the significance of the Tidal Disruption Event(TDE)?

TDEs are attractive to astronomers because of their observability and short duration, and the opportunity to study the impact of black hole’s gravity on materials around them. 

They are also an important tool to learn how black holes influence their environments.

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