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Optical-Ultraviolet Tidal Disruption Events

Abstract

The existence of optical-ultraviolet Tidal Disruption Events (TDEs) could be considered surprising because their electromagnetic output was originally predicted to be dominated by X-ray emission from an accretion disk. Yet over the last decade, the growth of optical transient surveys has led to the identification of a new class of optical transients occurring exclusively in galaxy centers, many of which are considered to be TDEs. Here we review the observed properties of these events, identified based on a shared set of both photometric and spectroscopic properties. We present a homogeneous analysis of 33 sources that we classify as robust TDEs, and which we divide into classes. The criteria used here to classify TDEs will possibly get updated as new samples are collected and potential additional diversity of TDEs is revealed. We also summarize current measurements of the optical-ultraviolet TDE rate, as well as the mass function and luminosity function. Many open questions exist regarding the current sample of events. We anticipate that the search for answers will unlock new insights in a variety of fields, from accretion physics to galaxy evolution.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A notable candidate exception is PS16dtm (Blanchard et al. 2017) which is discussed in the One-off Events and Imposters Chapter.

  2. 2.

    Such as a strong Fe X \(\lambda6376\) to O III \(\lambda 5007\) ratio, and strong Fe X \(\lambda 6376\), Fe XI \(\lambda \)7894, Fe XIV \(\lambda5304\), Ar XIV \(\lambda4414\), and S XII \(\lambda7612\) lines.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the International Space Science Institute for hosting us on several occasions to discuss the content and structure of this chapter, and its coordination with other chapters in this book. We are grateful to the two anonymous referees for their insightful comments and helpful suggestions. We thank Thomas Wevers for useful comments. S. van Velzen is supported by the James Arthur Postdoctoral Fellowship. F. Onori acknowledges the support of the H2020 Hemera program, grant agreement No 730970, and the support from European Research Council Consolidator Grant 647208. I. Arcavi is a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in the Gravity and the Extreme Universe Program and acknowledges support from that program, from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement number 852097), from the Israel Science Foundation (grant numbers 2108/18 and 2752/19), from the United States – Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), and from the Israeli Council for Higher Education Alon Fellowship.

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The Tidal Disruption of Stars by Massive Black Holes

Edited by Peter G. Jonker, Sterl Phinney, Elena Maria Rossi, Sjoert van Velzen, Iair Arcavi and Maurizio Falanga

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van Velzen, S., Holoien, T.WS., Onori, F. et al. Optical-Ultraviolet Tidal Disruption Events. Space Sci Rev 216, 124 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00753-z

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Keywords

  • Tidal disruption events: optical
  • Tidal disruption events: ultraviolet, Bowen fluorescence