With a mathematical model they launched eight stars into a black hole, to see what would happen: scientists are trying to "kill" stars for a reason
The death of a star is one of the most fascinating cosmic events we can imagine. And certainly one of the longest: the time it takes for stars to collapse depends on their mass, and can reach up to twenty billion years. Some of them explode to form the spectacular Supernovae.
You can't, like in Star Wars, shoot a star to kill it - although, we have to say, in the case of the Death Star it was a planet. But NASA scientists are trying to figure out how to take out a star, and one of the weapons they've considered are black holes.
The Scientists' Study
Clearly the study is done using a computer data set, which replicates the behavior of cosmic elements. It goes without saying that we can't go out there and push a star into a black hole.
Some researchers then created a mathematical model that launched eight stars toward a black hole with a mass more than a million times that of the Sun.
This simulation was the first to combine the physical effects of Einstein's Theory of Relativity on virtual stars with realistic internal structures.
Some of the eight stars launched against the black hole were only partially destroyed, others even managed to return to their original form. Some, finally, were completely "ripped away".
Four stars survived, thanks to their own gravity. One of these stars is very similar to our Sun, and the others have masses 0.15, 0.3, and 0.7 times greater, respectively. The others, those destroyed, had masses greater or less than the Sun: the difference between death and survival depends on the internal mass of the stars, NASA explained in a statement.
The aims of this study
The researchers' goal is to create realistic models of tidal destruction events, which occur when a star gets too close to the center of a black hole, which is called the event horizon. One of the most catastrophic events that can happen in space, although some theories paint an even bleaker possibility.
The fate of these eight stars could help us understand how these events happen and what they look like, even though they are millions of light years away. It would also help us understand how galaxies and the part of the universe that surrounds us work.