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Title: The nozzle shock in tidal disruption events

Tidal disruption events (TDEs) occur when a star gets torn apart by the strong tidal forces of a supermassive black hole, which results in the formation of a debris stream that partly falls back towards the compact object. This gas moves along inclined orbital planes that intersect near pericentre, resulting in a so-called ‘nozzle shock’. We perform the first dedicated study of this interaction, making use of a two-dimensional simulation that follows the transverse gas evolution inside a given section of stream. This numerical approach circumvents the lack of resolution encountered near pericentre passage in global three-dimensional simulations using particle-based methods. As it moves inward, we find that the gas motion is purely ballistic, which near pericentre causes strong vertical compression that squeezes the stream into a thin sheet. Dissipation takes place at the resulting nozzle shock, inducing a rise in pressure that causes the collapsing gas to bounce back, although without imparting significant net expansion. As it recedes to larger distances, this matter continues to expand while remaining thin despite the influence of pressure forces. This gas evolution specifies the strength of the subsequent self-crossing shock, which we find to be more affected by black hole spin than previously more » estimated. We also evaluate the impact of general relativistic effects, viscous dissipation, magnetic fields, and radiative processes on the nozzle shock. This study represents an important step forward in the theoretical understanding of TDEs, bridging the gap between our robust knowledge of the fallback rate and the more complex following stages, during which most of the emission occurs.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 2147-2169
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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