Radio Properties of Tidal Disruption Events

Kate D. Alexander*, Sjoert van Velzen, Assaf Horesh, B. Ashley Zauderer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Radio observations of tidal disruption events (TDEs) probe material ejected by the disruption of stars by supermassive black holes (SMBHs), uniquely tracing the formation and evolution of jets and outflows, revealing details of the disruption hydrodynamics, and illuminating the environments around previously-dormant SMBHs. To date, observations reveal a surprisingly diverse population. A small fraction of TDEs (at most a few percent) have been observed to produce radio-luminous mildly relativistic jets. The remainder of the population are radio quiet, producing less luminous jets, non-relativistic outflows or, possibly, no radio emission at all. Here, we review the radio observations that have been made of TDEs to date and discuss possible explanations for their properties, focusing on detected sources and, in particular, on the two best-studied events: Sw J1644+57 and ASASSN-14li. We also discuss what we have learned about the host galaxies of TDEs from radio observations and review constraints on the rates of bright and faint radio outflows in TDEs. Upcoming X-ray, optical, near-IR, and radio surveys will greatly expand the sample of TDEs, and technological advances open the exciting possibility of discovering a sample of TDEs in the radio band unbiased by host galaxy extinction.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number81
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge useful discussions with the attendees of the ISSI TDE workshop in October 2018, in particular Tsvi Piran. KDA acknowledges support provided by NASA through the NASA Hubble Fellowship grant HST-HF2-51403.001 awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., for NASA, under contract NAS5-26555. BAZ acknowledges support while serving at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and from the Dark Cosmology Centre (DARK) at the University of Copenhagen. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the supporting agencies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.


  • accretion, accretion disks
  • black hole physics
  • galaxies: nuclei
  • radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
  • radio continuum: galaxies
  • relativistic processes


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