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Title: New Physical Insights about Tidal Disruption Events from a Comprehensive Observational Inventory at X-Ray Wavelengths

Abstract

We perform a comprehensive study of the X-ray emission from 70 transient sources that have been classified as tidal disruption events (TDEs) in the literature. We explore the properties of these candidates, using nearly three decades of X-ray observations to quantify their properties and characteristics. We find that the emission from X-ray TDEs increase by two to three orders of magnitude, compared to pre-flare constraints. These emissions evolve significantly with time, and decay with power-law indices that are typically shallower than the canonical t {sup −5/3} decay law, implying that X-ray TDEs are viscously delayed. These events exhibit enhanced (relative to galactic) column densities and are quite soft in nature, with no strong correlation between the amount of detected soft and hard emission. At their peak, jetted events have an X-ray to optical ratio ≫1, whereas non-jetted events have a ratio ∼1, which suggests that these events undergo reprocessing at different rates. X-ray TDEs have long T {sub 90} values, consistent with what would be expected from a viscously driven accretion disk formed by the disruption of a main-sequence star by a black hole with a mass <10{sup 7} M {sub ⊙}. The isotropic luminosities of X-ray TDEs are bimodal,more » such that jetted and non-jetted events are separated by a “reprocessing valley” that we suggest is naturally populated by optical/UV TDEs that most likely produce X-rays, but this emission is “veiled” from observations due to reprocessing. Our results suggest that non-jetted X-ray TDEs likely originate from partial disruptions and/or disruptions of low-mass stars.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics, The Ohio State University, 191 West Woodruff Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 (United States)
  2. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138 (United States)
  3. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22661183
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 838; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCRETION DISKS; BLACK HOLES; CORRELATIONS; DECAY; DENSITY; EMISSION; GALAXIES; LIMITING VALUES; LUMINOSITY; MAIN SEQUENCE STARS; MASS; REPROCESSING; WAVELENGTHS; X RADIATION

Citation Formats

Auchettl, Katie, Guillochon, James, and Ramirez-Ruiz, Enrico. New Physical Insights about Tidal Disruption Events from a Comprehensive Observational Inventory at X-Ray Wavelengths. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA633B.
Auchettl, Katie, Guillochon, James, & Ramirez-Ruiz, Enrico. New Physical Insights about Tidal Disruption Events from a Comprehensive Observational Inventory at X-Ray Wavelengths. United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA633B.
Auchettl, Katie, Guillochon, James, and Ramirez-Ruiz, Enrico. Sat . "New Physical Insights about Tidal Disruption Events from a Comprehensive Observational Inventory at X-Ray Wavelengths". United States. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/AA633B.
@article{osti_22661183,
title = {New Physical Insights about Tidal Disruption Events from a Comprehensive Observational Inventory at X-Ray Wavelengths},
author = {Auchettl, Katie and Guillochon, James and Ramirez-Ruiz, Enrico},
abstractNote = {We perform a comprehensive study of the X-ray emission from 70 transient sources that have been classified as tidal disruption events (TDEs) in the literature. We explore the properties of these candidates, using nearly three decades of X-ray observations to quantify their properties and characteristics. We find that the emission from X-ray TDEs increase by two to three orders of magnitude, compared to pre-flare constraints. These emissions evolve significantly with time, and decay with power-law indices that are typically shallower than the canonical t {sup −5/3} decay law, implying that X-ray TDEs are viscously delayed. These events exhibit enhanced (relative to galactic) column densities and are quite soft in nature, with no strong correlation between the amount of detected soft and hard emission. At their peak, jetted events have an X-ray to optical ratio ≫1, whereas non-jetted events have a ratio ∼1, which suggests that these events undergo reprocessing at different rates. X-ray TDEs have long T {sub 90} values, consistent with what would be expected from a viscously driven accretion disk formed by the disruption of a main-sequence star by a black hole with a mass <10{sup 7} M {sub ⊙}. The isotropic luminosities of X-ray TDEs are bimodal, such that jetted and non-jetted events are separated by a “reprocessing valley” that we suggest is naturally populated by optical/UV TDEs that most likely produce X-rays, but this emission is “veiled” from observations due to reprocessing. Our results suggest that non-jetted X-ray TDEs likely originate from partial disruptions and/or disruptions of low-mass stars.},
doi = {10.3847/1538-4357/AA633B},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 2,
volume = 838,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}
  • We present new observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array of seven X-ray-selected tidal disruption events (TDEs). The radio observations were carried out between 9 and 22 years after the initial X-ray discovery, and thus probe the late-time formation of relativistic jets and jet interactions with the interstellar medium in these systems. We detect a compact radio source in the nucleus of the galaxy IC 3599 and a compact radio source that is a possible counterpart to RX J1420.4+5334. We find no radio counterparts for five other sources with flux density upper limits between 51 and 200 {mu}Jymore » (3{sigma}). If the detections truly represent late radio emission associated with a TDE, then our results suggest that a fraction, {approx}> 10%, of X-ray-detected TDEs are accompanied by relativistic jets. We explore several models for producing late radio emission, including interaction of the jet with gas in the circumnuclear environment (blast wave model), and emission from the core of the jet itself. Upper limits on the radio flux density from archival observations suggest that the jet formation may have been delayed for years after the TDE, possibly triggered by the accretion rate dropping below a critical threshold of {approx}10{sup -2}-10{sup -3} M-dot {sub Edd}. The non-detections are also consistent with this scenario; deeper radio observations can determine whether relativistic jets are present in these systems. The emission from RX J1420.4+5334 is also consistent with the predictions of the blast wave model; however, the radio emission from IC 3599 is substantially underluminous, and its spectral slope is too flat, relative to the blast wave model expectations. Future radio monitoring of IC 3599 and RX J1420.4+5334 will help to better constrain the nature of the jets in these systems.« less
  • One of the puzzles associated with tidal disruption event candidates (TDEs) is that there is a dichotomy between the color temperatures of a few × 10{sup 4} K for TDEs discovered with optical and UV telescopes and the color temperatures of a few × 10{sup 5}–10{sup 6} K for TDEs discovered with X-ray satellites. Here, we propose that high-temperature TDEs are produced when the tidal debris of a disrupted star self-intersects relatively close to the supermassive black hole, in contrast to the more distant self-intersection that leads to lower color temperatures. In particular, we note from simple ballistic considerations thatmore » greater apsidal precession in an orbit is the key to closer self-intersection. Thus, larger values of β, the ratio of the tidal radius to the pericenter distance of the initial orbit, are more likely to lead to higher temperatures of more compact disks that are super-Eddington and geometrically and optically thick. For a given star and β, apsidal precession also increases for larger black hole masses, but larger black hole masses imply a lower temperature at the Eddington luminosity. Thus, the expected dependence of the temperature on the mass of the black hole is non-monotonic. We find that in order to produce a soft X-ray temperature TDE, a deep plunging stellar orbit with β > 3 is needed and a black hole mass of ≲5 × 10{sup 6}M{sub ⊙} is favored. Although observations of TDEs are comparatively scarce and are likely dominated by selection effects, it is encouraging that both expectations are consistent with current data.« less
  • X-ray and γ-ray observations by the Swift satellite revealed that a fraction of tidal disruption events (TDEs) have relativistic jets. Jetted TDEs have been considered to be potential sources of very-high-energy cosmic-rays and neutrinos. In this work, using semi-analytical methods, we calculate neutrino spectra of X-ray bright TDEs with powerful jets and dark TDEs with possible choked jets, respectively. We estimate their neutrino fluxes and find that non-detection would give us an upper limit on the baryon loading of the jet luminosity contained in cosmic-rays ξ {sub cr} ≲ 20–50 for Sw J1644+57. We show that X-ray bright TDEs makemore » a sub-dominant (≲5%–10%) contribution to IceCube’s diffuse neutrino flux, and study possible contributions of X-ray dark TDEs given that particles are accelerated in choked jets or disk winds. We discuss future prospects for multi-messenger searches of the brightest TDEs.« less
  • We study the emission from tidal disruption events (TDEs) produced as radiation from black hole accretion propagates through an extended, optically thick envelope formed from stellar debris. We analytically describe key physics controlling spectrum formation, and present detailed radiative transfer calculations that model the spectral energy distribution and optical line strengths of TDEs near peak brightness. The steady-state transfer is coupled to a solver for the excitation and ionization states of hydrogen, helium, and oxygen (as a representative metal), without assuming local thermodynamic equilibrium. Our calculations show how an extended envelope can reprocess a fraction of soft X-rays and producemore » the observed optical fluxes of the order of 10{sup 43} erg s{sup −1}, with an optical/UV continuum that is not described by a single blackbody. Variations in the mass or size of the envelope may help explain how the optical flux changes over time with roughly constant color. For high enough accretion luminosities, X-rays can escape to be observed simultaneously with the optical flux. Due to optical depth effects, hydrogen Balmer line emission is often strongly suppressed relative to helium line emission (with He ii-to-H line ratios of at least 5:1 in some cases) even in the disruption of a solar-composition star. We discuss the implications of our results to understanding the type of stars destroyed in TDEs and the physical processes responsible for producing the observed flares.« less
  • Theory suggests that a star making a close passage by a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy can under most circumstances be expected to emit a giant flare of radiation as it is disrupted and a portion of the resulting stream of shock-heated stellar debris falls back onto the black hole itself. We examine the first results of an ongoing archival survey of galaxy clusters using Chandra and XMM-Newton-selected data and report a likely tidal disruption flare from SDSS J131122.15-012345.6 in A1689. The flare is observed to vary by a factor of {approx}>30 over at least twomore » years to have maximum L{sub X} (0.3-3.0 keV) {approx}> 5 x 10{sup 42} erg s{sup -1} and to emit as a blackbody with kT {approx} 0.12 keV. From the galaxy population as determined by existing studies of the cluster, we estimate a tidal disruption rate of 1.2 x 10{sup -4} galaxy{sup -1} yr{sup -1} if we assume a contribution to the observable rate from galaxies whose range of luminosities corresponds to a central black hole mass (M{sub .}) between 10{sup 6} and 10{sup 8} M{sub sun}.« less