Images by Date
Images by Category
Solar System
White Dwarfs
Neutron Stars
Black Holes
Milky Way Galaxy
Normal Galaxies
Galaxy Clusters
Cosmology/Deep Field
Images by Interest
Space Scoop for Kids
Sky Map
Photo Blog
Top Rated Images
Image Handouts
Fits Files
Image Tutorials
Photo Album Tutorial
False Color
Cosmic Distance
Look-Back Time
Scale & Distance
Angular Measurement
Images & Processing
Image Use Policy
Web Shortcuts
Chandra Blog
RSS Feed
Email Newsletter
News & Noteworthy
Image Use Policy
Questions & Answers
Glossary of Terms
Download Guide
Get Adobe Reader
Animations of RX J1242-11
Animation of Star Ripped Apart by Giant Black Hole
Animation of Star Ripped Apart
by Giant Black Hole

QuickTime MPEG This animation shows a yellow star that travels too close to a giant black hole in the center of the galaxy RX J1242-11. As it nears, the star is stretched by tidal forces from the black hole and is quickly torn apart. Most of the yellow gaseous debris from the star escapes the black hole in parabolic orbits. However, a small amount of material is captured by the black hole and then forms a rotating disk of gas. X-rays are emitted as the gas in the disk is heated (as shown by the blue color) and is gradually swallowed by the black hole, eventually emptying the disk.
[Run Time: 0:43]

Comparison of X-ray to Optical Data of RX J1242-11
Comparison of X-ray to Optical Data
of RX J1242-11

QuickTime MPEG This image sequence begins with an earlier X-ray (ROSAT satellite) image of the source RX J1242-11 when astronomers saw it in its brightest state. Next, the sequence zooms into a smaller region at the center, before merging to a Chandra image of RX J1242-11. Obtained 9 years later, the Chandra image shows that the source is 200 times fainter, a characteristic of a torn apart star near a black hole. The sequence then dissolves to an optical image of the same field. The white circle shows the position of the Chandra source on the visible-light image, proving this event occurred in the center of RX J1242-11.
[Run Time: 0:10]
ROSAT image: MPE
Optical: MPE/S.Komossa
Chandra: NASA/CXC/MPE/S.Komossa et al.

Illustrations Explaining Tidal Disruption
Illustrations Explaining Tidal Disruption
QuickTime MPEG The first illustration in this sequence shows a doomed star (orange circle) that wanders so close to a giant black hole that the black hole's enormous gravity stretches the star until it is torn apart. Some of the disrupted star's mass (indicated by the white stream) is swallowed by the black hole, while the rest is flung away into the surrounding galaxy. The second illustration shows how the gas that was pulled towards the black hole forms a disk and is heated before being swallowed by the black hole. The third illustration shows a much fainter disk, after about ten years have elapsed, when most of the gas has been swallowed by the black hole.
[Run Time: 0:12]
Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Comparison of Obscured AGN Spectrum and XMM Spectrum
Comparison of Obscured AGN Spectrum and XMM Spectrum
QuickTime MPEG This sequence of illustrations begins by showing an active galactic nucleus (AGN), a supermassive black hole that is swallowing large amounts of gas via a disk. In the type of AGN shown here the central black hole is obscured by a thick donut-shaped cloud of dust and gas. A representation of the X-ray spectrum, or X-ray energy signature, of a typical obscured AGN is then shown in yellow, followed by the XMM spectrum of the event in RX J1242-11 (shown in blue). The clear difference between the obscured AGN spectrum and the XMM spectrum shows that RX J1242-11 is not an obscured AGN. An optical spectrum obtained earlier with HST rules out the possibility that RX J1242-11 is a "normal" AGN, where the nucleus containing the black hole is not obscured by dust and gas.
[Run Time: 0:14]
Spectrum: ESA/XMM-Newton/S.Komossa et al.
Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Return to RX J1242-11 (18 Feb 04)