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White Dwarf Shreds Planet in a Burst of X-Rays

10 Aug 2014, 22:00 UTC
White Dwarf Shreds Planet in a Burst of X-Rays
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The globular cluster NGC 6388 is believed to harbour an intermediate mass black hole (IMBH) with ~1000 times the Sun’s mass at its centre. On 11 August 2011, the INTEGRAL satellite detected a hard X-ray transient identified as IGR J17361-4441 near the centre of NGC 6388. The hard X-ray transient was thought to have originated from the IMBH at the centre of the globular cluster. However, follow-up observations reveal that the position of the hard X-ray transient was off-centre and could not possibly be related to the IMBH.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a planet in the dense stellar environment of a globular cluster.A study by M. Del Santo et al. (2014) suggests that IGR J17361-4441 is consistent with a tidal disruption event (TDE). Its nature as a TDE is based on two pieces of empirical evidences. Firstly, the decline of the X-ray light curve is typical for a TDE (Figure 2). Secondly, observations of TDEs from the disruption of stars by supermassive black holes (SMBHs) show a thermal emission component that does not evolve significantly with time. Such a thermal emission was observed for IGR J17361-4441 (Figure 3).Observational analysis and theoretical calculations indicate that IGR J17361-4441 is most likely a ...

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