After a star is shattered by a tidal disruption, the black hole's powerful gravitational forces sucks in most of the star's remnants. Friction then heats this wreckage, producing vast amounts of X-ray radiation.
After this outpouring of X-rays, the amount of light drops as the stellar material falls beyond the black hole's event horizon. Gas every so often falls toward a black hole by flying inward and creating a disk.
But the procedure that generates these disk structures, called “accretion disks”, has remained a mystery until now.
By witnessing ASASSN-14li, the group of astronomers was able to observe the creation of an accretion disk as it took place, by looking at the X-ray light at changed wavelengths and pursuing how those discharges changed over time.
Astronomers are hopeful to discover and study more events like ASASSN-14li so they can carry on to test theoretical models about how black holes disturb their nearby environments, while understanding more about what black holes do to any stars or other bodies that come too close.
The results were issued in the journal Nature.