Consequences of strong compression in tidal disruption events

Nicholas Stone*, Re'em Sari, Abraham Loeb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


The tidal disruption of a star by a supermassive black hole (SMBH) is a highly energetic event with consequences dependent on the degree to whichthe star plunges inside the SMBH's tidal sphere. We introduce a new analytic model for tidal disruption events (TDEs) to analyse the dependence of these events on β, the ratio of the tidal radius to the orbital pericentre.We find, contrary to most previous work, that the spread in debris energy for a TDE is largely constant for all β. This result has important consequences for optical transient searches targeting TDEs, which we discuss. We quantify leading-order general relativistic corrections to this spread inenergy and find that they are small. We also examine the role of stellar spin and find that a combination of spin-orbit misalignment, rapid rotation and high β may alter the spread in debris energy. Finally, we quantify for the firsttime the gravitational wave emission due to the strong compression of a star in a high-β TDE. Although this signal is unlikely to bedetectable for disruptions of main-sequence stars, the tidal disruption of a white dwarf by an intermediate mass black hole can produce a strong signal visible to Advanced LIGO at tens of megaparsecs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1809-1824
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Gravitational waves
  • X-rays: bursts


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