skip to main content

Title: SPOON-FEEDING GIANT STARS TO SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLES: EPISODIC MASS TRANSFER FROM EVOLVING STARS AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE QUIESCENT ACTIVITY OF GALACTIC NUCLEI

Stars may be tidally disrupted if, in a single orbit, they are scattered too close to a supermassive black hole (SMBH). Tidal disruption events are thought to power luminous but short-lived accretion episodes that can light up otherwise quiescent SMBHs in transient flares. Here we explore a more gradual process of tidal stripping where stars approach the tidal disruption radius by stellar evolution while in an eccentric orbit. After the onset of mass transfer, these stars episodically transfer mass to the SMBH every pericenter passage, giving rise to low-level flares that repeat on the orbital timescale. Giant stars, in particular, will exhibit a runaway response to mass loss and 'spoon-feed' material to the black hole for tens to hundreds of orbital periods. In contrast to full tidal disruption events, the duty cycle of this feeding mode is of order unity for black holes M{sub bh} ∼> 10{sup 7} M{sub ☉}. This mode of quasi-steady SMBH feeding is competitive with indirect SMBH feeding through stellar winds, and spoon-fed giant stars may play a role in determining the quiescent luminosity of local SMBHs.
Authors:
; ; ;  [1]
  1. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22270589
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 777; 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; ASTRONOMY; ASTROPHYSICS; BLACK HOLES; GALAXY NUCLEI; GIANT STARS; HYDRODYNAMICS; LUMINOSITY; MASS TRANSFER; ORBITS; STAR EVOLUTION; STELLAR WINDS; TRANSIENTS; VISIBLE RADIATION