This artist impression illustrates the tremendous gravitational pull of a giant black hole on a passing star. The doomed object is first stretched by tidal forces until it is torn apart. Most of the gas making up the star is lost from the system but some of it is trapped by the black hole and forms a disc of gas around it. In the disc, the gas is heated to millions of degrees and emits in the X-rays, before disappearing forever, swallowed by the black hole. It is precisely the signature of this disc that ESA's XMM-Newton has detected.