[0910.4152] Interruption of Tidal Disruption Flares By Supermassive Black Hole Binaries

Authors: F. K. Liu (1 and 2), S. Li (1), Xian Chen (1 and 3) ((1) Peking University, (2) KIAA at Peking University, (3) University of California at Santa Cruz)

Date: 21 Oct 2009

Abstract: Supermassive black hole binaries (SMBHBs) are products of galaxy mergers, and are important in testing LambdaCDM cosmology and locating gravitational-wave-radiation sources. A unique electromagnetic signature of SMBHBs in galactic nuclei is essential in identifying the binaries in observations from the IR band through optical to X-ray. Recently, the flares in optical, UV, and X-ray caused by supermassive black holes (SMBHs) tidally disrupting nearby stars have been successfully used to observationally probe single SMBHs in normal galaxies. In this letter, we investigate the accretion of the gaseous debris of a tidally disrupted star by a SMBHB. Using both stability analysis of three-body systems and numerical scattering experiments, we show that the accretion of stellar debris gas, which initially decays with time $\propto tˆ{-5/3}$, would stop at a time $T_{tr} \simeq \eta T_{b}$. Here $\eta \sim 0.25$ and $T_{b}$ is the orbital period of the SMBHB. After a period of interruption, the accretion recurs discretely at time $T_{r} \simeq \xi T_b$, where $\xi \sim 1$. Both $\eta$ and $\xi$ sensitively depend on the orbital parameters of the tidally disrupted star at the tidal radius and the orbit eccentricity of SMBHB. The interrupted accretion of the stellar debris gas gives rise to an interrupted tidal flare, which could be used to identify SMBHBs in non-active galaxies in the upcoming transient surveys.

abs pdf

Oct 23, 2009

0910.4152 (/preprints)
2009-10-23, 09:07 [edit]

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