Friday, January 11, 2013
370 Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics
Tidal disruption by spinning supermassive black holes
Mike Kesden, Postdoc, Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, New York University
Supermassive black holes reside at the centers of most large galaxies, including our own Milky Way. Stars can get scattered onto orbits where the tidal force exerted by the black hole exceeds the star's self-gravity, leading to the star's tidal disruption. Some of the debris from the disrupted star will be accreted by the black hole, releasing gravitational potential energy that can power a bright electromagnetic flare. If the tidal radius at which the star is disrupted is close enough to the black hole's event horizon, general relativity will affect both the rate at which these tidal disruption events occur and the light curves for individual events. I will present semi-analytic models of stellar tidal disruption that allow these relativistic effects to be quantified, and will summarize current and future observational efforts to detect tidal disruption events.