## Star Swallowed by Galactic Black Hole

In an article in the NY Times "Unusual Celestial Event Was Black Hole Swallowing a Star", it was written:

“This is a singular event in the history of mankind,” Dr. Joshua Bloom, an associate professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley, said. “This black hole was otherwise sitting dormant, a star got too close, its gas got ripped apart and in doing so some of it got spit up.”

My question is about objects getting too close to black holes. Does the point of no return vary with the mass of the object? Do more massive objects get caught in the death grip of a black hole further than a smaller object?
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 Quote by RJ Emery In an article in the NY Times "Unusual Celestial Event Was Black Hole Swallowing a Star", it was written: “This is a singular event in the history of mankind,” Dr. Joshua Bloom, an associate professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley, said. “This black hole was otherwise sitting dormant, a star got too close, its gas got ripped apart and in doing so some of it got spit up.” My question is about objects getting too close to black holes. Does the point of no return vary with the mass of the object? Do more massive objects get caught in the death grip of a black hole further than a smaller object?
Here is the paper behind this new story:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.3257
also as Report in Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/ea...cience.1207150

Right at the beginning of the paper they describe a disruption radius. If the star passes closer than this to the black hole, it will be disrupted and swallowed. They give the formula:

R (MBH / M)^1/3

MBH = mass of black hole (assumed > a million time M)
M = mass of star.

So yes, it depends on both mass and radius of star. However, a more massive star apparently needs to pass closer to be disrupted and absorbed.

For concreteness, for a star like the sun, and black hole of 10^7 solar masses, the disruption radius is 5 times the event horizon radius.
 I have another question: In the NY Times article, Bloom describes part of the swallowed star as having been "spit up." I presume this material spike fortuitously was pointed in the direction of earth, at which point the emission could be detected. If other stars were swallowed by this same black hole with a resulting spike pointed away from earth, then we would have no way of detecting such an event. Thus, while a (galactic) black hole may appear quiescent, it may be anything but. To detect an event, it really depends 1) if a spike occurred from a swallowed star and 2) if it was pointed in our direction. Is the above reasoning correct?

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## Star Swallowed by Galactic Black Hole

Actually, with a trivial rearrangement, the formula for disruption radius is inversely proportional to the cube root of the density of the passing star. Thus, within the parameters and validity scope of this approximation, the more 'compact' a body, the closer it has to come to be disrupted.

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