Black hole masses of tidal disruption event host galaxies

Thomas Wevers*, Sjoert van Velzen, Peter G. Jonker, Nicholas C. Stone, Tiara Hung, Francesca Onori, Suvi Gezari, Nadejda Blagorodnova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


The mass of the central black hole in a galaxy that hosted a tidal disruption event (TDE) is an important parameter in understanding its energetics and dynamics.We present the first homogeneously measured black hole masses of a complete sample of 12 optically/UV-selected TDE host galaxies (down to ghost ≤ 22 mag and z = 0.37) in the Northern sky. The mass estimates are based on velocity dispersion measurements, performed on late time optical spectroscopic observations. We find black hole masses in the range of 3 × 105 M ≤ MBH ≤ 2 × 107 M. The TDE host galaxy sample is dominated by low-mass black holes (~ 106 M), as expected from theoretical predictions. The blackbody peak luminosity of TDEs with MBH =≤107.1 M is consistent with the Eddington limit of the supermassive black hole (SMBH), whereas the two TDEs with MBH ≥ 107.1 M have peak luminosities below their SMBH Eddington luminosity, in line with the theoretical expectation that the fallback rate for MBH ≥ 107.1 M is sub-Eddington. In addition, our observations suggest that TDEs around lower mass black holes evolve faster. These findings corroborate the standard TDE picture in 106 M black holes. Our results imply an increased tension between observational and theoretical TDE rates. By comparing the blackbody emission radius with theoretical predictions, we conclude that the optical/UV emission is produced in a region consistent with the stream self-intersection radius of shallow encounters, ruling out a compact accretion disc as the direct origin of the blackbody radiation at peak brightness.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1694-1708
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors.


  • Accretion
  • Accretion discs
  • Galaxies: bulges
  • Galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Galaxies: nuclei


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