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  1. Abstract

    Dynamical perturbations from supermassive black hole (SMBH) binaries can increase the rates of tidal disruption events (TDEs). However, most previous work focuses on TDEs from the heavier black hole in the SMBH binary (SMBHB) system. In this work, we focus on the lighter black holes in SMBHB systems and show that they can experience a similarly dramatic increase in their TDE rate due to perturbations from a more massive companion. While the increase in TDEs around the more massive black hole is mostly due to chaotic orbital perturbations, we find that, around the smaller black hole, the eccentric Kozai–Lidov mechanism is dominant and capable of producing a comparably large number of TDEs. In this scenario, the mass derived from the light curve and spectra of TDEs caused by the lighter SMBH companion is expected to be significantly smaller than the SMBH mass estimated from galaxy scaling relations, which are dominated by the more massive companion. This apparent inconsistency can help find SMBHB candidates that are not currently accreting as active galactic nuclei and that are at separations too small for them to be resolved as two distinct sources. In the most extreme cases, these TDEs provide us with the exciting opportunity to study SMBHBs in galaxies where the primary SMBH is too massive to disrupt Sun-like stars.

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  2. Abstract

    The proximity and duration of the tidal disruption event ASASSN-14li led to the discovery of narrow, blueshifted absorption lines in X-rays and UV. The gas seen in X-ray absorption is consistent with bound material close to the apocenter of elliptical orbital paths, or with a disk wind similar to those seen in Seyfert-1 active galactic nuclei. We present a new analysis of the deepest high-resolution XMM-Newton and Chandra spectra of ASASSN-14li. Driven by the relative strengths of He-like and H-like charge states, the data require [N/C] ≥ 2.4, in qualitative agreement with UV spectral results. Flows of the kind seen in the X-ray spectrum of ASASSN-14li were not clearly predicted in simulations of TDEs; this left open the possibility that the observed absorption might be tied to gas released in prior active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity. However, the abundance pattern revealed in this analysis points to a single star rather than a standard AGN accretion flow comprised of myriad gas contributions. The simplest explanation of the data is likely that a moderately massive star (M≳ 3M) with significant CNO processing was disrupted. An alternative explanation is that a lower mass star was disrupted that had previously been stripped of its envelope. We discuss the strengths and limitations of our analysis and these interpretations.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  3. Abstract Stars grazing supermassive black holes (SMBHs) on bound orbits may survive tidal disruption, causing periodic flares. Inspired by the recent discovery of the periodic nuclear transient ASASSN-14ko, a promising candidate for a repeating tidal disruption event (TDE), we study the tidal deformation of stars approaching SMBHs on eccentric orbits. With both analytical and hydrodynamic methods, we show the overall tidal deformation of a star is similar to that in a parabolic orbit provided that the eccentricity is above a critical value. This allows one to make use of existing simulation libraries from parabolic encounters to calculate the mass fallback rate in eccentric TDEs. We find the flare structures of eccentric TDEs show a complicated dependence on both the SMBH mass and the orbital period. For stars orbiting SMBHs with relatively short periods, we predict significantly shorter-lived duration flares than those in parabolic TDEs, which can be used to predict repeating events if the mass of the SMBH can be independently measured. Using an adiabatic mass-loss model, we study the flare evolution over multiple passages, and show the evolved stars can survive many more passages than main-sequence stars. We apply this theoretical framework to the repeating TDE candidate ASASSN-14ko and suggest that its recurrent flares originate from a moderately massive ( M ≳ 1 M ⊙ ), extended (likely ≈10 R ⊙ ), evolved star on a grazing, bound orbit around the SMBH. Future hydrodynamic simulations of multiple tidal interactions will enable realistic models on the individual flare structure and the evolution over multiple flares. 
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  5. Abstract

    Tidal disruption events (TDEs) provide a unique opportunity to probe the stellar populations around supermassive black holes (SMBHs). By combining light-curve modeling with spectral line information and knowledge about the stellar populations in the host galaxies, we are able to constrain the properties of the disrupted star for three TDEs. The TDEs in our sample have UV spectra, and measurements of the UV Niiito Ciiiline ratios enabled estimates of the nitrogen-to-carbon abundance ratios for these events. We show that the measured nitrogen line widths are consistent with originating from the disrupted stellar material dispersed by the central SMBH. We find that these nitrogen-to-carbon abundance ratios necessitate the disruption of moderately massive stars (≳1–2M). We determine that these moderately massive disruptions are overrepresented by a factor of ≳102when compared to the overall stellar population of the post-starburst galaxy hosts. This implies that SMBHs are preferentially disrupting higher mass stars, possibly due to ongoing top-heavy star formation in nuclear star clusters or to dynamical mechanisms that preferentially transport higher mass stars to their tidal radii.

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  8. Abstract We present photometric and spectroscopic observations of Supernova 2020oi (SN 2020oi), a nearby (∼17 Mpc) type-Ic supernova (SN Ic) within the grand-design spiral M100. We undertake a comprehensive analysis to characterize the evolution of SN 2020oi and constrain its progenitor system. We detect flux in excess of the fireball rise model δ t ≈ 2.5 days from the date of explosion in multiband optical and UV photometry from the Las Cumbres Observatory and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, respectively. The derived SN bolometric luminosity is consistent with an explosion with M ej = 0.81 ± 0.03 M ⊙ , E k = 0.79 ± 0.09 × 10 51 erg s −1 , and M Ni56 = 0.08 ± 0.02 M ⊙ . Inspection of the event’s decline reveals the highest Δ m 15,bol reported for a stripped-envelope event to date. Modeling of optical spectra near event peak indicates a partially mixed ejecta comparable in composition to the ejecta observed in SN 1994I, while the earliest spectrum shows signatures of a possible interaction with material of a distinct composition surrounding the SN progenitor. Further, Hubble Space Telescope pre-explosion imaging reveals a stellar cluster coincident with the event. From the cluster photometry, we derive the mass and age of the SN progenitor using stellar evolution models implemented in the BPASS library. Our results indicate that SN 2020oi occurred in a binary system from a progenitor of mass M ZAMS ≈ 9.5 ± 1.0 M ⊙ , corresponding to an age of 27 ± 7 Myr. SN 2020oi is the dimmest SN Ic event to date for which an early-time flux excess has been observed, and the first in which an early excess is unlikely to be associated with shock cooling. 
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