The fine line between total and partial tidal disruption events

Deborah Mainetti, Alessandro Lupi, Sergio Campana, Monica Colpi, Eric R. Coughlin, James Guillochon, Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Flares from tidal disruption events are unique tracers of quiescent black holes at the centre of galaxies. The appearance of these flares is very sensitive to whether the star is totally or partially disrupted, and in this paper we seek to identify the critical distance of the star from the black hole (rd) that enables us to distinguish between these two outcomes. We perform here mesh-free finite mass, traditional, and modern smoothed particle hydrodynamical simulations of star-black hole close encounters, with the aim of checking if the value of rd depends on the simulation technique. We find that the critical distance (or the so-called critical disruption parameter βd) depends only weakly on the adopted simulation method, being βd = 0.92 ± 0.02 for a γ = 5/3 polytrope and βd = 2.01 ± 0.01 for a γ = 4/3 polytrope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA124
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Methods: numerical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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