Release Images

Release No.: 2017-16
For Release: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 11:00am

Do Stars Fall Quietly into Black Holes, or Crash into Something Utterly Unknown?

artist's impression shows a star crossing the event horizon of a supermassive black hole

This artist's impression shows a star crossing the event horizon of a supermassive black hole located in the center of a galaxy. The black hole is so large and massive that tidal effects on the star are negligible, and the star is swallowed whole. The effects of gravitational lensing distorting the light of the star are not shown here.

Mark A. Garlick/CfA

artist's impressions that shows a huge, massive sphere in the center of a galaxy, rather than a supermassive black hole

This is the first in a sequence of two artist's impressions that shows a huge, massive sphere in the center of a galaxy, rather than a supermassive black hole. Here a star moves towards and then smashes into the hard surface of the sphere, flinging out debris. The impact heats up the site of the collision.

Mark A. Garlick/CfA

uge sphere in the center of a galaxy is shown after a star has collided with it

In this second artist's impression a huge sphere in the center of a galaxy is shown after a star has collided with it. Enormous amounts of heat and a dramatic increase in the brightness of the sphere are generated by this event. The lack of observation of such flares from the center of galaxies means that this hypothetical scenario is almost completely ruled out.

Mark A. Garlick/CfA