In this artist's rendering, a thick accretion disk has formed around a supermassive black hole following the tidal disruption of a star that wandered too close. Stellar debris has fallen toward the black hole and collected into a thick chaotic disk of hot gas. Flashes of X-ray light near the center of the disk result in light echoes that allow astronomers to map the structure of the funnel-like flow, revealing for the first time strong gravity effects around a normally quiescent black hole.
Image Credit: NASA/Swift/Aurore Simonnet, Sonoma State Univ.
Explanation from: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=12265