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Watch This Animation of a Star Being Ripped Apart by a Black Hole

The force of a black hole is powerful enough to unravel a passing star. If that scene is difficult for you to imagine, just take a look at NASA’s digital rendering above.

This newly released animation depicts “tidal disruption,” a phenomenon astronomers recently observed in real life using three X-ray telescopes. The event, which they dubbed ASASSN-14li, allowed scientists to gather new details on how stars and black holes interact.  

In the animation, material is shown being ripped away from the passing star at a high rate, which generates a huge amount of light. The light diminishes as the star collapses into the black hole, and the gas spirals toward the center in a disk formation. Scientists now know that when stellar debris falls toward the hole’s center, it reaches temperatures of millions of degrees. This heat pushes gases outward in the form of a high-speed wind, forming the gaseous disk around it. 

This phenomenon was observed using the telescopes to study X-ray light at different wavelengths and to see how they changed over time. Astronomers discovered ASASSN-14li in November 2014, and at 290 million light-years from Earth, the tidal disruption is the closest one we’ve found in the last decade. For more information on ASASSN-14li, check out NASA’s awesomely titled press release, Destroyed Star Rains onto Black Hole, Wind Blows it Back

[h/t: The Verge]

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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