NASA/IPAC EXTRAGALACTIC DATABASE
Date and Time of the Query: 2019-06-15 T15:15:45 PDT
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Copyright by Royal Astronomical Society. 2016MNRAS.460..240K Star-disc interaction in galactic nuclei: orbits and rates of accreted stars Kennedy, Gareth F.; Meiron, Yohai; Shukirgaliyev, Bekdaulet; Panamarev, Taras; Berczik, Peter; Just, Andreas; Spurzem, Rainer Abstract. We examine the effect of an accretion disc on the orbits of stars in the central star cluster surrounding a central massive black hole by performing a suite of 39 high-accuracy direct N-body simulations using state-of-the art software and accelerator hardware, with particle numbers up to 128k. The primary focus is on the accretion rate of stars by the black hole (equivalent to their tidal disruption rate for black holes in the small to medium mass range) and the eccentricity distribution of these stars. Our simulations vary not only the particle number, but disc model (two models examined), spatial resolution at the centre (characterized by the numerical accretion radius) and softening length. The large parameter range and physically realistic modelling allow us for the first time to confidently extrapolate these results to real galactic centres. While in a real galactic centre both particle number and accretion radius differ by a few orders of magnitude from our models, which are constrained by numerical capability, we find that the stellar accretion rate converges for models with N >= 32k. The eccentricity distribution of accreted stars, however, does not converge. We find that there are two competing effects at work when improving the resolution: larger particle number leads to a smaller fraction of stars accreted on nearly circular orbits, while higher spatial resolution increases this fraction. We scale our simulations to some nearby galaxies and find that the expected boost in stellar accretion (or tidal disruption, which could be observed as X-ray flares) in the presence of a gas disc is about a factor of 10. Even with this boost, the accretion of mass from stars is still a factor of ~100 slower than the accretion of gas from the disc. Thus, it seems accretion of stars is not a major contributor to black hole mass growth. Key words: accretion, accretion discs, methods: numerical, celestial mechanics, galaxies: active, galaxies: nuclei
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