On the Impact of Relativistic Gravity on the Rate of Tidal Disruption Events
Abstract

The tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes (SMBHs) probes relativistic gravity. In the coming decade, the number of observed tidal disruption events (TDEs) will grow by several orders of magnitude, allowing statistical inferences of the properties of the SMBH and stellar populations. Here we analyze the probability distribution functions of the pericenter distances of stars that encounter an SMBH in the Schwarzschild geometry, where the results are completely analytic, and the Kerr metric. From this analysis we calculate the number of observable TDEs, defined to be those that come within the tidal radiusrtbut outside the direct capture radius (which is, in general, larger than the horizon radius). We find that relativistic effects result in a steep decline in the number of stars that have pericenter distancesrp≲ 10rg, whererg=GM/c2, and that for maximally spinning SMBHs the distribution function ofrpat such distances scales as$frp∝rp4/3$, or in terms ofβrt/rpscales asfββ−10/3. We find that spin has little effect on the TDE fraction until the very-high-mass end, where instead of being identically zero the rate is small (≲1% of the expected rate in the absence of relativistic effects). Effectively independent of spin, if the progenitors more »

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10370338
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:
936
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 70
ISSN:
0004-637X
Publisher:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
National Science Foundation
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