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  1. Abstract Extreme tidal disruption events (eTDEs), which occur when a star passes very close to a supermassive black hole, may provide a way to observe a long-sought general relativistic effect: orbits that wind several times around a black hole and then leave. Through general relativistic hydrodynamics simulations, we show that such eTDEs are easily distinguished from most tidal disruptions, in which stars come close, but not so close, to the black hole. Following the stellar orbit, the debris is initially distributed in a crescent, it then turns into a set of tight spirals circling the black hole, which merge into a shell expanding radially outwards. Some mass later falls back toward the black hole, while the remainder is ejected. Internal shocks within the infalling debris power the observed emission. The resulting lightcurve rises rapidly to roughly the Eddington luminosity, maintains this level for between a few weeks and a year (depending on both the stellar mass and the black hole mass), and then drops. Most of its power is in thermal X-rays at a temperature ∼(1–2) × 10 6 K (∼100–200 eV). The debris evolution and observational features of eTDEs are qualitatively different from ordinary TDEs, making eTDEs a new type of TDE. Although eTDEs are relatively rare for lower-mass black holes, most tidal disruptions around higher-mass black holes are extreme. Their detection offers a view of an exotic relativistic phenomenon previously inaccessible. 
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  2. Abstract

    Quasiperiodic erupters are a remarkable class of objects exhibiting very-large-amplitude quasiperiodic X-ray flares. Although numerous dynamical models have been proposed to explain them, relatively little attention has been given to using the properties of their radiation to constrain their dynamics. Here we show that the observed luminosity, spectrum, repetition period, duty cycle, and fluctuations in the latter two quantities point toward a model in which a main-sequence star on a moderately eccentric orbit around a supermassive black hole periodically transfers mass to the Roche lobe of the black hole; orbital dynamics lead to mildly relativistic shocks near the black hole; and thermal X-rays at the observed temperature are emitted by the gas as it flows away from the shock. Strong X-ray irradiation of the star by the flare itself augments the mass transfer, creates fluctuations in flare timing, and stirs turbulence in the stellar atmosphere that amplifies the magnetic field to a level at which magnetic stresses can accelerate infall of the transferred mass toward the black hole.

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  3. Abstract

    The magnetorotational instability (MRI) has been extensively studied in circular magnetized disks, and its ability to drive accretion has been demonstrated in a multitude of scenarios. There are reasons to expect eccentric magnetized disks to also exist, but the behavior of the MRI in these disks remains largely uncharted territory. Here we present the first simulations that follow the nonlinear development of the MRI in eccentric disks. We find that the MRI in eccentric disks resembles circular disks in two ways, in the overall level of saturation and in the dependence of the detailed saturated state on magnetic topology. However, in contrast with circular disks, the Maxwell stress in eccentric disks can be negative in some disk sectors, even though the integrated stress is always positive. The angular momentum flux raises the eccentricity of the inner parts of the disk and diminishes the same of the outer parts. Because material accreting onto a black hole from an eccentric orbit possesses more energy than material tracing the innermost stable circular orbit, the radiative efficiency of eccentric disks may be significantly lower than circular disks. This may resolve the “inverse energy problem” seen in many tidal disruption events.

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  4. Abstract Accreting supermassive binary black holes (SMBBHs) are potential multimessenger sources because they emit both gravitational-wave and electromagnetic (EM) radiation. Past work has shown that their EM output may be periodically modulated by an asymmetric density distribution in the circumbinary disk, often called an “overdensity” or “lump;” this modulation could possibly be used to identify a source as a binary. We explore the sensitivity of the overdensity to SMBBH mass ratio and magnetic flux through the accretion disk. We find that the relative amplitude of the overdensity and its associated EM periodic signal both degrade with diminishing mass ratio, vanishing altogether somewhere between 1:2 and 1:5. Greater magnetization also weakens the lump and any modulation of the light output. We develop a model to describe how lump formation results from internal stress degrading faster in the lump region than it can be rejuvenated through accretion inflow, and predicts a threshold value in specific internal stress below which lump formation should occur and which all our lump-forming simulations satisfy. Thus, detection of such a modulation would provide a constraint on both mass ratio and magnetic flux piercing the accretion flow. 
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  5. Abstract

    We perform a full 3D general relativistic magnetohydrodynamical (GRMHD) simulation of an equal-mass, spinning, binary black hole approaching merger, surrounded by a circumbinary disk and with a minidisk around each black hole. For this purpose, we evolve the ideal GRMHD equations on top of an approximated spacetime for the binary that is valid in every position of space, including the black hole horizons, during the inspiral regime. We use relaxed initial data for the circumbinary disk from a previous long-term simulation, where the accretion is dominated by am= 1 overdensity called the lump. We compare our new spinning simulation with a previous non-spinning run, studying how spin influences the minidisk properties. We analyze the accretion from the inner edge of the lump to the black hole, focusing on the angular momentum budget of the fluid around the minidisks. We find that minidisks in the spinning case have more mass over a cycle than the non-spinning case. However, in both cases we find that most of the mass received by the black holes is delivered by the direct plunging of material from the lump. We also analyze the morphology and variability of the electromagnetic fluxes, and we find they share the same periodicities of the accretion rate. In the spinning case, we find that the outflows are stronger than the non-spinning case. Our results will be useful to understand and produce realistic synthetic light curves and spectra, which can be used in future observations.

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  6. Abstract

    We present fully relativistic predictions for the electromagnetic emission produced by accretion disks surrounding spinning and nonspinning supermassive binary black holes on the verge of merging. We use the codeBothrosto post-process data from 3D general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations via ray-tracing calculations. These simulations model the dynamics of a circumbinary disk and the mini-disks that form around two equal-mass black holes orbiting each other at an initial separation of 20 gravitational radii, and evolve the system for more than 10 orbits in the inspiral regime. We model the emission as the sum of thermal blackbody radiation emitted by an optically thick accretion disk and a power-law spectrum extending to hard X-rays emitted by a hot optically thin corona. We generate time-dependent spectra, images, and light curves at various frequencies to investigate intrinsic periodic signals in the emission, as well as the effects of the black hole spin. We find that prograde black hole spin makes mini-disks brighter since the smaller innermost stable circular orbit angular momentum demands more dissipation before matter plunges to the horizon. However, compared to mini-disks in larger separation binaries with spinning black holes, our mini-disks are less luminous: unlike those systems, their mass accretion rate is lower than in the circumbinary disk, and they radiate with lower efficiency because their inflow times are shorter. Compared to a single black hole system matched in mass and accretion rate, these binaries have spectra noticeably weaker and softer in the UV. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for the potential observability of these systems.

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  7. Abstract We present a survey of how the spectral features of black hole X-ray binary systems depend on spin, accretion rate, viewing angle, and Fe abundance when predicted on the basis of first-principles physical calculations. The power-law component hardens with increasing spin. The thermal component strengthens with increasing accretion rate. The Compton bump is enhanced by higher accretion rate and lower spin. The Fe K α equivalent width grows sublinearly with Fe abundance. Strikingly, the K α profile is more sensitive to accretion rate than to spin because its radial surface brightness profile is relatively flat, and higher accretion rate extends the production region to smaller radii. The overall radiative efficiency is at least 30%–100% greater than as predicted by the Novikov–Thorne model. 
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