The dynamics of debris streams from tidal disruption events: exact solutions, critical stream density, and hydrogen recombination

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

A star destroyed by a supermassive black hole (SMBH) in a tidal disruption event (TDE) is transformed into a filamentary structure known as a tidally disrupted stellar debris stream. We show that when ideal gas pressure dominates the thermodynamics of the stream, there is an exact solution to the hydrodynamics equations that describes the stream evolution and accounts for self-gravity, pressure, the dynamical expansion of the gas, and the transverse structure of the stream. We analyse the stability of this solution to cylindrically symmetric perturbations, and show that there is a critical stream density below which the stream is unstable and is not self-gravitating; this critical density is a factor of at least 40-50 smaller than the stream density in a TDE. Above this critical density the stream is overstable, self-gravity confines the stream, the oscillation period is exponentially long, and the growth rate of the overstability scales as t1/6. The power-law growth and small power-law index of the overstability implies that the stream is effectively stable to cylindrically symmetric perturbations. We also use this solution to analyse the effects of hydrogen recombination, and suggest that even though recombination substantially increases the gas entropy, it is likely incapable of completely destroying the influence of self-gravity. We also show that the transient produced by recombination is far less luminous than previous estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5500-5516
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume522
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

Keywords

  • black hole physics
  • hydrodynamics
  • methods: analytical
  • radiation mechanisms: general
  • transients: tidal disruption events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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