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Formation of an Accretion Flow

Bonnerot, C. and Stone, N. C. (2020) Formation of an Accretion Flow. . (Unpublished)

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After a star has been tidally disrupted by a black hole, the debris forms an elongated stream. We start by studying the evolution of this gas before its bound part returns to the original stellar pericenter. While the axial motion is entirely ballistic, the transverse directions of the stream are usually thinner due to the confining effects of self-gravity. This basic picture may also be influenced by additional physical effects such as clump formation, hydrogen recombination, magnetic fields and the interaction with the ambient medium. We then examine the fate of this stream when it comes back to the vicinity of the black hole to form an accretion flow. Despite recent progress, the hydrodynamics of this phase remains uncertain due to computational limitations that have so far prevented us from performing a fully self-consistent simulation. Most of the initial energy dissipation appears to be provided by a self-crossing shock that results from an intersection of the stream with itself. The debris evolution during this collision depends on relativistic apsidal precession, expansion of the stream from pericenter, and nodal precession induced by the black hole spin. Although the combined influence of these effects is not fully understood, current works suggest that this interaction is typically too weak to significantly circularize the trajectories, with its main consequence being an expansion of the shocked gas. Global simulations of disc formation using simplified initial conditions find that the debris experiences additional collisions that cause its orbits to become more circular until eventually settling into a thick structure. These works suggest that this process completes faster for more relativistic encounters due to stronger shocks. However, important aspects still remain to be understood at the time of writing, due to numerical challenges and the complexity of this process.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Bonnerot, C.0000-0001-9970-2843
Additional Information:We gratefully acknowledge conversations with, and detailed comments from T. Piran, as well as his edits on an earlier version of this manuscript. We are also grateful to E.M. Rossi for insightful discussions during the writing of this chapter. The research of CB was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF5076. NCS was supported by the NASA Astrophysics Theory Research program (grant NNX17AK43G; PI B. Metzger), and from the Israel Science Foundation (Individual Research Grant 2565/19).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationGBMF5076
Israel Science Foundation2565/19
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200922-134234662
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105475
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Sep 2020 20:52
Last Modified:22 Sep 2020 20:52

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