Gravitational waves and X-ray signals from stellar disruption by a massive black hole

Shiho Kobayashi, Pablo Laguna, E. Sterl Phinney, Peter Mészáros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Gravitational waves and X-ray flares are expected from tidal disruption of stars by a massive black hole. Using a relativistic smoothed particle hydrodynamics code, we investigate the fate of main-sequence and helium stars in plunge orbits passing near Schwarzschild or Kerr black holes of mass ∼105-106 M. We show that quadrupole gravitational waves emitted during the tidal disruption process are described reasonably well by a point-particle approximation even in the strong-encounter case. An additional hydrodynamic calculation based on the Godunov method indicates that shocks develop for sufficiently high tidal compressions. The shock heating results in an X-ray flare, which for solar-type stars disrupted by ∼106 M black holes is in the keV range associated with the gravitational wave signal. The hardness and duration of the X-ray flare may serve as a diagnostic of the mass of the central black hole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-865
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Nov 10 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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