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The Tidal Disruption of Stars by Massive Black Holes

  • Book
  • © 2022
  • Latest edition


  • Reviews an emerging field on super massive black holes
  • Includes over 100 color figures
  • Written by an expert team of astrophysicists and researchers

Part of the book series: Space Sciences Series of ISSI (SSSI, volume 79)

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About this book

This volume provides an overview of the fast-developing field of tidal disruption events. For several decades, astronomers speculated that a hapless star could wander too close to a massive black hole and be torn apart by tidal forces. Yet it is only with the recent advent of wide-field transient surveys that such events have been detected.

Written by a team of prominent researchers, the chapters detail the discoveries made so far in this burgeoning field of study across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from gamma-rays through X-rays, ultra-violet, optical, infrared, and radio. In addition, they show how tidal disruption events can be used to study the properties of otherwise undetectable supermassive black holes; the populations and dynamics of stars in galactic nuclei; the physics of black hole accretion, including the potential to detect relativistic effects near a SMBH; and the physics of (radio) jet formation and evolution in a pristine environment.

Finally,the book outlines important outstanding questions about TDEs. With more than 100 color images, the volume will be useful to researchers and others interested in learning more about this promising area of astrophysics.

Previously published in Space Science Reviews in the Topical Collection “The Tidal Disruption of Stars by Massive Black Holes”


  • super massive black holes
  • transients in astronomy
  • simulations of tidal disruptions
  • accretion (super-Eddington)
  • black hole binaries
  • TDE's astrophysics
  • SMBHs astrophysics
  • TDE host galaxies
  • star black hole tidal forces

Editors and Affiliations

  • SRON, Utrecht, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    Peter G. Jonker

  • Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

    Iair Arcavi

  • California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA

    E. Sterl Phinney

  • Leiden Observatory, Leiden, The Netherlands

    Elena M. Rossi

  • Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

    Nicholas C. Stone

  • Leiden University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Sjoert van Velzen

About the editors

Prof. Dr. Peter G. Jonker is Professor in Observational High Energy Astrophysics at Radboud University, the Netherlands and Senior Scientist at SRON, Netherlands Institute for Space Research. He obtained a PhD from the University of Amsterdam. As a post-doc he worked at Cambridge University in the U.K. on a Marie Curie fellowship and as a Chandra fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Next, he returned to the Netherlands to work at SRON and Radboud University. His main research interests are the formation and evolution of black holes.

Iair pronounced (“ya-eer”) Arcavi is an observational astrophysicist who studies high energy transients. Arcavi is particulary interested in supernovae, tidal dirsuption events, and neutron star mergers, and in using novel observational techniques to capture their first light, to observe rapidly-evolving events continously, and to systamtically build samples of rare events. For these purposes Arcavi works mainly withthe Las Cumbres Observatory global network of robotic telescopes, is involved in the development of the new SoXS spectroraph, and is a member of the BlackGEM survey. In addition, Arcavi develops tools, such as “followup marshals”, to better make use of rapid-response facilities, and to exploit (while not being overwhelmed by) firehose astronomical alert streams.

Sterl Phinney, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) since 1985, received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1983, followed by two years at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He wrote his first paper on the tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes in 1989. His other fields include the theory of accretion disks and extraction of energy from black holes in radio jets, millisecond pulsars, binary stars, globular cluster dynamics, fast radio bursts, and sources of gravitational waves. Phinney chaired the LISA Mission Definition Team (1997-2001) and was Co-Chair of the LISA Sources and Data Analysis Working Group (2001-2011).

Dr E.M. Rossi is a theoretical astrophysicist, working on a broad range of topics, involving gas and star dynamics around compact objects. She obtained her PhD at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK. She held her Chandra Fellowship at the University of Boulder, CO, USA. After a postdoctoral position at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she was hired by Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands, on a tenure track position. Since 2017, she is Associate Professor.

Dr. Nicholas C. Stone is a Senior Lecturer in the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He completed his PhD at Harvard University in 2013, and subsequently worked at Columbia University as both a postdoctoral researcher and as a NASA Einstein fellow. He moved to Jerusalem to start his current faculty position in 2019. Dr. Stone is atheoretical astrophysicist with broad interests in dynamics, hydrodynamics, and general relativity, and has actively researched tidal disruption events since his PhD.

Sjoert van Velzen obtained his PhD in 2014 from the Radboud University in The Netherlands. As a post-doc he worked at the Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. on a Hubble fellowship and as a James Arthur fellow at New York University. In 2020, he returned to the Netherlands for an Assistant Professor position at the Leiden Observatory. His main research topic is massive black holes.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: The Tidal Disruption of Stars by Massive Black Holes

  • Editors: Peter G. Jonker, Iair Arcavi, E. Sterl Phinney, Elena M. Rossi, Nicholas C. Stone, Sjoert van Velzen

  • Series Title: Space Sciences Series of ISSI

  • Publisher: Springer Dordrecht

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature B.V. 2022

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-94-024-2145-3Published: 19 November 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-94-024-2148-4Published: 20 November 2022

  • Series ISSN: 1385-7525

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XI, 589

  • Number of Illustrations: 18 b/w illustrations, 135 illustrations in colour

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