Tidal Disruption Events


[An artist’s idea of a TDE, and our spectrum.  Image credit: NASA/Chandra.]

Massive black holes can shred and devour stars that wander too close.  Predicted decades ago, it is only in recent years that we are starting to make conclusive detections of such events, and detailed studies.  Tidal disruption events (or, TDEs) can reveal new aspects of disk accretion, black hole fueling, interactions between star clusters and black holes, and the mass and spin distributions of massive black holes.  TDEs represent a growing discovery space that we are poised to explore using approved Chandra, XMM-Newton, NuSTAR, and NICER observations.  A nice artist’s conception of an event that we studied using Chanda, XMM-Newton, and Swift, and later reported in Nature is available here.