The spaghettification of stars by supermassive black holes: understanding one of nature’s most extreme events - Andrew Mummery
On a rare occasion an unfortunate star will be perturbed onto a near-radial orbit about the supermassive black hole in its galactic centre. Upon venturing too close to the black hole the star is destroyed, in its entirety, by the black hole’s gravitational tidal force, a process known as “spaghettification”. Some of the stellar debris subsequently accretes onto the black hole, powering bright flares which are observable at cosmological distances. In this talk I will discuss recent theoretical developments which allow us to describe the observed emission from these extreme events in detail, allowing them to be used as probes of the black holes at their centre. I am a Leverhulme-Peierls Fellow in the Department of Physics and Merton College. I completed both my undergraduate degree and DPhil at Oxford, working for my DPhil in the astrophysics department under the supervision of Steven Balbus. I work on astrophysical fluid dynamics, with a particular focus on the behaviour of fluids when they are very close to black holes.