Star-Swallowing Black Holes Reveal Secrets in Exotic Light Shows

Thirty years ago, Martin Rees, a former Member in the School of Natural Sciences and current IAS Trustee, predicted that bright flares produced when a star is torn apart by a black hole—what astrophysicists now call tidal disruption events (TDEs)—could be used to detect and study black holes. Former Member Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz is among the astrophysicists who have been involved in detecting TDEs and using them to understand black holes, a field that has, in his words, “exploded” in recent years. In May, Ramirez-Ruiz and colleagues proposed a new theoretical model for why different TDEs can appear to behave differently, even though the underlying physics is presumably the same.

Read more at Quanta.