Past Event

Tidal Disruption Events: A New Black Hole Census

February 16, 2022
4:05 PM - 5:05 PM
Pupin 1402

Colloquium by Nicholas Stone, Hebrew University

When unlucky stars pass too close to massive black holes, they are torn apart by tidal forces.  The return of bound, highly elliptical streams of stellar debris to pericenter initiates a chain of events that powers a luminous flare.  These tidal disruption events (TDEs), once a theoretical curiosity, reach peak luminosities brighter than almost all supernova explosions, remain bright for months to years, and are discovered in ever-greater numbers by ongoing optical and X-ray surveys.  In this talk, I will review the underlying scientific potential of TDEs as probes of massive black hole (MBH) demographics.  I will discuss the idealized models that are used today to estimate MBH properties from TDEs, the ongoing challenge of understanding TDEs with predictive, first-principles hydrodynamic simulations, and the imminent revolution in TDE studies as eROSITA, VRO, and ULTRASAT expand our sample of TDEs (from its present-day value of ~100) by two orders of magnitude.

Followed by (limited) wine and cheese.

Host: Zoltan Haiman