CfA Colloquium Schedule Fall 2008
 11 September 2008

11 September 2008

Speaker: Suvi Gezari (Johns Hopkins)

Title: Flares from Starving Beasts: The Tidal Disruption of Stars by Supermassive Black Holes

Abstract: A dormant supermassive black hole (SMBH) lurking in the nucleus of a distant galaxy will be revealed when an ill-fated star passes too close to the black hole and is torn apart by its strong tidal forces. When the stellar debris falls back onto the black hole it is rapidly accreted, resulting in a luminous flare. I will present a review of the current census of tidal disruption event candidates detected in the X-rays, UV, and optical, and make predictions for the detection rates of the next generation of wide-field optical synoptic surveys, such as Pan-STARRS 1 and LSST. Tidal disruption flares are a promising means to probe the mass and spin of SMBHs in distant, normal galaxies, for which the central black hole is quiescent, and the dynamical signature of the SMBH is unresolved.

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