Stellar Revival and Repeated Flares in Deeply Plunging Tidal Disruption Events

C. J. Nixon, Eric R. Coughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Tidal disruption events with tidal radius r t and pericenter distance r p are characterized by the quantity β = r t/r p, and "deep encounters"have β ≫ 1. It has been assumed that there is a critical β β c ∼1 that differentiates between partial and full disruption: for β < β c a fraction of the star survives the tidal interaction with the black hole, while for β > β c the star is completely destroyed, and hence all deep encounters should be full. Here we show that this assumption is incorrect by providing an example of a β = 16 encounter between a γ = 5/3, solar-like polytrope and a 106 M o˙ black hole - for which previous investigations have found β c ≃ 0.9 - that results in the reformation of a stellar core post-disruption that comprises approximately 25% of the original stellar mass. We propose that the core reforms under self-gravity, which remains important because of the compression of the gas both near pericenter, where the compression occurs out of the orbital plane, and substantially after pericenter, where compression is within the plane. We find that the core forms on a bound orbit about the black hole, and we discuss the corresponding implications of our findings in the context of recently observed, repeating nuclear transients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL25
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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