Characterizing Massive Black Holes through Stellar Tidal Disruption

A star interacting with a massive black hole cannot be treated as a point mass if its gets so close to the black hole that it becomes vulnerable to tidal distortions and even disruption. When a rapidly changing tidal force starts to compete with a stars self-gravity, the material of the star responds on a complicated way. This phenomenon poses an as yet unmet challenge to computer simulations. The art of modeling the tidal disruption of stars by massive black holes forms the main theme of my talk. Detailed simulations should tell us what happen when stars of different types get tidally disrupted, and what radiation a distant observer might detect as the observational signature of such events.

Followed by wine and cheese in Pupin 1402.

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