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AAS 235: Day 1

6 Jan 2020, 17:00 UTC
AAS 235: Day 1
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Editor’s Note: This week we’re at the 235th AAS Meeting in Honolulu, HI. Along with a team of authors from Astrobites, we will be writing updates on selected events at the meeting and posting each day. Follow along here or at astrobites.com. The usual posting schedule for AAS Nova will resume next week.

Kavli Foundation Plenary Lecture: Black Holes Snacking on Stars: A Systematic Exploration of Transients in Galaxy Nuclei (by Mike Zevin)
In the kickoff plenary of #AAS235, Suvi Gezari (University of Maryland) got us ready for breakfast by illuminating the stellar snacks of black holes. Just like how the tidal forces of the Moon stretch and squeeze the Earth (giving us, for example, high and low tides on Waikiki beach), black holes exert tidal forces on stellar bystanders. Particularly unlucky stars can be ripped apart entirely by the black hole, leading to a so-called tidal disruption event (TDE). This happens when a star enters the black hole’s tidal disruption radius, which is dependent on the star’s size and the relative mass between the star and black hole. Since the tidal disruption radius of a star is a direct probe of the black hole mass, observations of such events ...

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