STRW local: Colloquia


Tidal disruption events: probes of supermassive black hole properties

Date: 13-02-2020
Time: 11:15 h
Author: Peter Jonker

For several decades, astronomers have speculated that a hapless star could wander too close to a super massive black hole (SMBH) and be torn apart by tidal forces. It has only been with the recent advent of numerous wide field transient surveys that such events have been detected in the form of giant-amplitude, luminous flares of electromagnetic radiation from the centers of otherwise quiescent galaxies. The discoveries, spanning the whole electromagnetic spectrum from X-rays, over UV, optical and near-infrared events, to a small number of events launching relativistic radio jets, have caused widespread excitement, as we can use these tidal disruption events to study the mass and spin of SMBHs in quiescent galaxies, the stellar populations and dynamics in galactic nuclei, the physics of black hole accretion under extreme conditions including the potential to detect relativistic effects near the SMBH, and the physics of radio jet formation and evolution in a pristine environment.