James Guillochon - Harvard ITC

James Guillochon
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James Guillochon
Harvard ITC
United States

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (34)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (7)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (6)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (4)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (3)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (2)
Astrophysics (1)
High Energy Physics - Experiment (1)
Physics - Physics and Society (1)
Physics - Space Physics (1)

Publications Authored By James Guillochon

We carried out the first multi-wavelength (optical/UV and X-ray) photometric reverberation mapping of a tidal disruption flare (TDF) ASASSN-14li. We find that its X-ray variations are correlated with and lag the optical/UV fluctuations by 32$\pm$4 days. Based on the direction and the magnitude of the X-ray time lag, we rule out X-ray reprocessing and direct emission from a standard circular thin disk as the dominant source of its optical/UV emission. Read More

One of the main challenges of current tidal disruption events (TDEs) studies is that emission arising from AGN activity may potentially mimic the expected X-ray emission of TDEs. This makes it difficult to cleanly disentangle these two components without significant multiwavelength follow up. Here we compare the X-ray properties of TDEs with those of AGN to determine a set of characteristics which would allow us to discriminate between flares arising from these two objects. Read More

Affiliations: 1ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 2ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 3ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 4ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 5ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 6ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 7ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 8ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 9ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 10ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 11ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 12ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 13ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 14ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 15ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 16ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 17ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 18ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 19ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 20ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 21ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 22ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 23ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 24ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 25ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 26ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 27ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 28ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 29ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 30ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 31ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 32ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 33ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 34ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 35ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 36ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group, 37ALMA Time-domain Special Interest Group

While the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a uniquely powerful telescope, its impact in certain fields of astrophysics has been limited by observatory policies rather than the telescope's innate technical capabilities. In particular, several observatory policies present challenges for observations of variable, mobile, and/or transient sources --- collectively referred to here as "time-domain" observations. In this whitepaper we identify some of these policies, describe the scientific applications they impair, and suggest changes that would increase ALMA's science impact in Cycle 6 and beyond. Read More

Flares from tidal disruption events are unique tracers of quiescent black holes at the centre of galaxies. The appearance of these flares is very sensitive to whether the star is totally or partially disrupted, and in this paper we seek to identify the critical distance of the star from the black hole (r_d) that enables us to distinguish between these two outcomes. We perform here Mesh-free Finite Mass, traditional, and modern Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamical simulations of star-black hole close encounters, with the aim of checking if the value of r_d depends on the simulation technique. Read More

Multiwavelength flares from tidal disruption and accretion of stars can be used to find and study otherwise dormant massive black holes in galactic nuclei. Previous well-monitored candidate flares are short-lived, with most emission confined to within ~1 year. Here we report the discovery of a well observed super-long (>11 years) luminous soft X-ray flare from the nuclear region of a dwarf starburst galaxy. Read More

We construct a menu of objects that can give rise to bright flares when disrupted by massive black holes (BHs), ranging from planets to evolved stars. Through their tidal disruption, main sequence and evolved stars can effectively probe the existence of otherwise quiescent supermassive BHs and white dwarfs can probe intermediate mass BHs. Many low-mass white dwarfs possess extended hydrogen envelopes, which allow for the production of prompt flares in disruptive encounters with moderately massive BHs of $10^5$ to $10^7~M_\odot$, masses which may constitute the majority of massive BHs by number. Read More

We perform a comprehensive study of the X-ray emission from 70 transient sources which have been classified as a tidal disruption event (TDE) in the literature. We explore the properties of these candidates using nearly three decades of X-ray observations to quantify the properties and characteristics of X-ray TDEs observationally. We find that the emission from X-ray TDEs increase by two to four orders of magnitude compared to pre-flare constraints, which evolves significantly with time and decays with powerlaw indices that are typically shallower than the canonical $t^{-5/3}$ decay law, implying that X-ray TDEs are viscously delayed. Read More

Authors: Demitri Muna, Michael Alexander, Alice Allen, Richard Ashley, Daniel Asmus, Ruyman Azzollini, Michele Bannister, Rachael Beaton, Andrew Benson, G. Bruce Berriman, Maciej Bilicki, Peter Boyce, Joanna Bridge, Jan Cami, Eryn Cangi, Xian Chen, Nicholas Christiny, Christopher Clark, Michelle Collins, Johan Comparat, Neil Cook, Darren Croton, Isak Delberth Davids, Éric Depagne, John Donor, Leonardo A. dos Santos, Stephanie Douglas, Alan Du, Meredith Durbin, Dawn Erb, Daniel Faes, J. G. Fernández-Trincado, Anthony Foley, Sotiria Fotopoulou, Søren Frimann, Peter Frinchaboy, Rafael Garcia-Dias, Artur Gawryszczak, Elizabeth George, Sebastian Gonzalez, Karl Gordon, Nicholas Gorgone, Catherine Gosmeyer, Katie Grasha, Perry Greenfield, Rebekka Grellmann, James Guillochon, Mark Gurwell, Marcel Haas, Alex Hagen, Daryl Haggard, Tim Haines, Patrick Hall, Wojciech Hellwing, Edmund Christian Herenz, Samuel Hinton, Renee Hlozek, John Hoffman, Derek Holman, Benne Willem Holwerda, Anthony Horton, Cameron Hummels, Daniel Jacobs, Jens Juel Jensen, David Jones, Arna Karick, Luke Kelley, Matthew Kenworthy, Ben Kitchener, Dominik Klaes, Saul Kohn, Piotr Konorski, Coleman Krawczyk, Kyler Kuehn, Teet Kuutma, Michael T. Lam, Richard Lane, Jochen Liske, Diego Lopez-Camara, Katherine Mack, Sam Mangham, Qingqing Mao, David J. E. Marsh, Cecilia Mateu, Loïc Maurin, James McCormac, Ivelina Momcheva, Hektor Monteiro, Michael Mueller, Roberto Munoz, Rohan Naidu, Nicholas Nelson, Christian Nitschelm, Chris North, Juan Nunez-Iglesias, Sara Ogaz, Russell Owen, John Parejko, Vera Patrício, Joshua Pepper, Marshall Perrin, Timothy Pickering, Jennifer Piscionere, Richard Pogge, Radek Poleski, Alkistis Pourtsidou, Adrian M. Price-Whelan, Meredith L. Rawls, Shaun Read, Glen Rees, Hanno Rein, Thomas Rice, Signe Riemer-Sørensen, Naum Rusomarov, Sebastian F. Sanchez, Miguel Santander-García, Gal Sarid, William Schoenell, Aleks Scholz, Robert L. Schuhmann, William Schuster, Peter Scicluna, Marja Seidel, Lijing Shao, Pranav Sharma, Aleksandar Shulevski, David Shupe, Cristóbal Sifón, Brooke Simmons, Manodeep Sinha, Ian Skillen, Bjoern Soergel, Thomas Spriggs, Sundar Srinivasan, Abigail Stevens, Ole Streicher, Eric Suchyta, Joshua Tan, O. Grace Telford, Romain Thomas, Chiara Tonini, Grant Tremblay, Sarah Tuttle, Tanya Urrutia, Sam Vaughan, Miguel Verdugo, Alexander Wagner, Josh Walawender, Andrew Wetzel, Kyle Willett, Peter K. G. Williams, Guang Yang, Guangtun Zhu, Andrea Zonca

The Astropy Project (http://astropy.org) is, in its own words, "a community effort to develop a single core package for Astronomy in Python and foster interoperability between Python astronomy packages." For five years this project has been managed, written, and operated as a grassroots, self-organized, almost entirely volunteer effort while the software is used by the majority of the astronomical community. Read More

We perform the first magnetohydrodynamical simulations of tidal disruptions of stars by supermassive black holes. We consider stars with both tangled and ordered magnetic fields, for both grazing and deeply disruptive encounters. When the star survives disruption, we find its magnetic field amplifies by a factor of up to twenty, but see no evidence for the a self-sustaining dynamo that would yield arbitrary field growth. Read More

We present the Open Supernova Catalog, an online collection of observations and metadata for presently 36,000+ supernovae and related candidates. The catalog is freely available on the web (https://sne.space), with its main interface having been designed to be a user-friendly, rapidly-searchable table accessible on desktop and mobile devices. Read More

Stream-stream collisions play an important role for the circularization of highly eccentric streams resulting from tidal disruption events (TDEs). We perform three dimensional radiation hydrodynamic simulations to show that stream collisions can contribute significant optical and ultraviolet light to the flares produced by TDEs, and can sometimes explain the majority of the observed emission. Our simulations focus on the region near the radiation pressure dominated shock produced by a collision and track how the kinetic energy of the stream is dissipated by the associated shock. Read More

We present a Hubble Space Telescope STIS spectrum of ASASSN-14li, the first rest-frame UV spectrum of a tidal disruption flare (TDF). The underlying continuum is well fit by a blackbody with $T_{\mathrm{UV}} = 3.5 \times 10^{4}$ K, an order of magnitude smaller than the temperature inferred from X-ray spectra (and significantly more precise than previous efforts based on optical and near-UV photometry). Read More

A star wandering too close to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) will be tidally disrupted. Previous studies of such "tidal disruption event" (TDE) mostly focus on the stellar debris that are bound to the system, because they give rise to luminous flares. On the other hand, half of the stellar debris in principle are unbound and can stream to a great distance, but so far there is no clear evidence that this "unbound debris stream" (UDS) exists. Read More

Observations of luminous flares resulting from the possible tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes have raised a number of puzzles. Outstanding questions include the origin of the optical and ultraviolet (UV) flux, the weakness of hydrogen lines in the spectrum, and the occasional simultaneous observation of x-rays. Here we study the emission from tidal disruption events (TDEs) produced as radiation from black hole accretion propagates through an extended, optically thick envelope formed from stellar debris. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Michigan, 2SRON, 3University of Maryland, College Park, 4University of Michigan, 5University of Warwick, 6Joint Space-Science Institute, University of Maryland, College Park, 7Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, 8University of Maryland, College Park, 9Harvard University, 10University of Michigan, 11University of Alabama, 12University of Warwick, 13Wheaton College, 14University of Alabama, 15University of Maryland, College Park, 16University of Leicester, 17Columbia University, 18SRON, 19University of California, Santa Cruz, 20Joint Space-Science Institute, University of Maryland, College Park, 21University of Leicester

Tidal forces close to massive black holes can violently disrupt stars that make a close approach. These extreme events are discovered via bright X-ray and optical/UV flares in galactic centers. Prior studies based on modeling decaying flux trends have been able to estimate broad properties, such as the mass accretion rate. Read More

We report the discovery of transient radio emission from the nearby optically-discovered TDE ASASSN-14li (distance of 90 Mpc), making it the first typical TDE detected in the radio, and unambiguously pointing to the formation of a non-relativistic outflow with a kinetic energy of $\approx (4-10)\times10^{47}$ erg, a velocity of $\approx 12,000-36,000$ km s$^{-1}$, and a mass of $\approx 3\times10^{-5}-7\times10^{-4}$ M$_{\odot}$. We show that the outflow was ejected on 2014 August 11--25, in agreement with an independent estimate of the timing of super-Eddington accretion based on the optical, UV, and X-ray observations, and that the ejected mass corresponds to about $1-10\%$ of the mass accreted in the super-Eddington phase. The temporal evolution of the radio emission also uncovers the circumnuclear density profile, $\rho(R)\propto R^{-2. Read More

The kinetic energy of a star in orbit about a supermassive black hole is a significant fraction of its rest mass energy when its periapse is comparable to its tidal radius. Upon its destruction, a fraction of this energy is extracted and injected into the stellar debris, half of which becomes unbound from the black hole, with the fastest material moving at $\sim 0.03 c$. Read More

The primary challenge of rocket propulsion is the burden of needing to accelerate the spacecraft's own fuel, resulting in only a logarithmic gain in maximum speed as propellant is added to the spacecraft. Light sails offer an attractive alternative in which fuel is not carried by the spacecraft, with acceleration being provided by an external source of light. By artificially illuminating the spacecraft with beamed radiation, speeds are only limited by the area of the sail, heat resistance of its material, and power use of the accelerating apparatus. Read More

In this paper, we model the observable signatures of tidal disruptions of white dwarf (WD) stars by massive black holes (MBHs) of moderate mass, $\approx 10^3 - 10^5 M_\odot$. When the WD passes deep enough within the MBH's tidal field, these signatures include thermonuclear transients from burning during maximum compression. We combine a hydrodynamic simulation that includes nuclear burning of the disruption of a $0. Read More

The merger of two white dwarfs (WDs) has for many years not been considered as the favoured model for the progenitor system of type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia). But recent years have seen a change of opinion as a number of studies, both observational and theoretical, have concluded that they should contribute significantly to the observed type Ia supernova rate. In this paper, we study the ignition and propagation of detonation through post-merger remnants and we follow the resulting nucleosynthesis up to the point where a homologous expansion is reached. Read More

Solitary stars that wander too close to their galactic centres can become tidally disrupted, if the tidal forces due to the supermassive black hole (SMBH) residing there overcome the self-gravity of the star. If the star is only partially disrupted, so that a fraction survives as a self-bound object, this remaining core will experience a net gain in specific orbital energy, which translates into a velocity "kick" of up to $\sim 10^3$ km/s. In this paper, we present the result of smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations of such partial disruptions, and analyse the velocity kick imparted on the surviving core. Read More

At intervals as short as ten thousand years, each white dwarf (WD) passes within a solar radius of a planetoid, i.e., a comet, asteroid, or planet. Read More


The disruption of a main-sequence star by a supermassive black hole results in the initial production of an extended debris stream that winds repeatedly around the black hole, producing a complex three-dimensional figure that may self-intersect. Both analytical work and simulations have shown that typical encounters generate streams that are extremely thin. In this paper we show that this implies that even small relativistic precessions attributed to black hole spin can induce deflections that prevent the stream from self-intersecting even after many windings. Read More

The discovery of hypervelocity stars (HVS) leaving our galaxy with speeds of nearly $10^{3}$ km s$^{-1}$ has provided strong evidence towards the existence of a massive compact object at the galaxy's center. HVS ejected via the disruption of stellar binaries can occasionally yield a star with $v_{\infty} \lesssim 10^4$ km s$^{-1}$, here we show that this mechanism can be extended to massive black hole (MBH) mergers, where the secondary star is replaced by a MBH with mass $M_2 \gtrsim 10^5 M_{\odot}$. We find that stars that are originally bound to the secondary MBH are frequently ejected with $v_{\infty} > 10^4$ km s$^{-1}$, and occasionally with velocities $\sim 10^5$ km s$^{-1}$ (one third the speed of light), for this reason we refer to stars ejected from these systems as "semi-relativistic" hypervelocity stars (SHS). Read More

Galaxy mergers lead to the formation of massive black hole binaries which can accelerate background stars close to the speed of light. We estimate the comoving density of ejected stars with a peculiar velocity in excess of $0.1c$ or $0. Read More

White dwarfs (WDs) can be tidally disrupted only by massive black holes (MBHs) with masses less than $\sim10^5 M_\odot$. These tidal interactions feed material to the MBH well above its Eddington limit, with the potential to launch a relativistic jet. The corresponding beamed emission is a promising signpost to an otherwise quiescent MBH of relatively low mass. Read More

The discovery of the gas cloud G2 on a near-radial orbit about Sgr A* has prompted much speculation on its origin. In this Letter, we propose that G2 formed out of the debris stream produced by the removal of mass from the outer envelope of a nearby giant star. We perform hydrodynamical simulations of the returning tidal debris stream with cooling, and find that the stream condenses into clumps that fall periodically onto Sgr A*. Read More

Stars may be tidally disrupted if, in a single orbit, they are scattered too close to a supermassive black hole (SMBH). Tidal disruption events are thought to power luminous but short-lived accretion episodes that can light up otherwise quiescent SMBHs in transient flares. Here we explore a more gradual process of tidal stripping where stars approach the tidal disruption radius by stellar evolution while in an eccentric orbit. Read More

The centers of most known galaxies host supermassive black holes (SMBHs). In orbit around these black holes are a centrally-concentrated distribution of stars, both in single and in binary systems. Occasionally, these stars are perturbed onto orbits that bring them close to the SMBH. Read More

When a star comes within a critical distance to a supermassive black hole (SMBH), immense tidal forces disrupt the star, resulting in a stream of debris that falls back onto the SMBH and powers a luminous flare. In this paper, we perform hydrodynamical simulations of the disruption of a main-sequence star by a SMBH to characterize the evolution of the debris stream after a tidal disruption. We demonstrate that this debris stream is confined by self-gravity in the two directions perpendicular to the original direction of the star's travel, and as a consequence has a negligible surface area and makes almost no contribution to either the continuum or line emission. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of California - Santa Cruz, 2University of California - Santa Cruz, 3University of California - Santa Cruz, 4University of California - Santa Cruz

Several models for type Ia-like supernovae events rely on the production of a self-sustained detonation powered by nuclear reactions. In the absence of hydrogen, the fuel that powers these detonations typically consists of either pure helium (He) or a mixture of carbon and oxygen (C/O). Studies that systematically determine the conditions required to initiate detonations in C/O material exist, but until now no analogous investigation of He matter has been conducted. Read More

Upon formation, degenerate He core white dwarfs are surrounded by a radiative H-rich layer primarily supported by ideal gas pressure. In this Letter, we examine the effect of this H-rich layer on mass transfer in He+C/O double white dwarf binaries that will eventually merge and possibly yield a Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) in the double detonation scenario. Because its thermal profile and equation of state differ from the underlying He core, the H-rich layer is transferred stably onto the C/O white dwarf prior to the He core's tidal disruption. Read More

A large population of planetary candidates in short-period orbits have been found through transit searches. Radial velocity surveys have also revealed several Jupiter-mass planets with highly eccentric orbits. Measurements of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect indicate some misaligned planetary systems. Read More

Sun-like stars are thought to be regularly disrupted by supermassive black holes (SMBHs) within galactic nuclei. Yet, as stars evolve off the main sequence their vulnerability to tidal disruption increases drastically as they develop a bifurcated structure consisting of a dense core and a tenuous envelope. Here we present the first hydrodynamic simulations of the tidal disruption of giant stars and show that the core has a substantial influence on the star's ability to survive the encounter. Read More

The disruption of stars by supermassive black holes has been linked to more than a dozen flares in the cores of galaxies out to redshift $z \sim 0.4$. Modeling these flares properly requires a prediction of the rate of mass return to the black hole after a disruption. Read More

We examine the consequences of a model in which relativistic jets can be triggered in quiescent massive black holes when a geometrically thick and hot accretion disk forms as a result of the tidal disruption of a star. To estimate the power, thrust and lifetime of the jet, we use the mass accretion history onto the black hole as calculated by detailed hydrodynamic simulations of the tidal disruption of stars. We go on to determine the states of the interstellar medium in various types of quiescent galactic nuclei, and describe how this external matter can affect jets propagating through it. Read More


Despite their unique astrophysical relevance, the outcome of white dwarf binary mergers has so far only been studied for a very restricted number of systems. Here we present the results of a survey with more than two hundred simulations systematically scanning the white dwarf binary parameter space. We consider white dwarf masses ranging from 0. Read More

While gas accretion onto some massive black holes (MBHs) at the centers of galaxies actively powers luminous emission, the vast majority of MBHs are considered dormant. Occasionally, a star passing too near a MBH is torn apart by gravitational forces, leading to a bright panchromatic tidal disruption flare (TDF). While the high-energy transient Swift J164449. Read More

We present the results of a systematic numerical study of the onset of mass transfer in double degenerate binary systems and its impact on the subsequent evolution. All investigated systems belong to the regime of direct impact, unstable mass transfer. In all of the investigated cases, even those considered unstable by conventional stability analysis, we find a long-lived mass transfer phase continuing for as many as several dozen orbital periods. Read More

The discovery of Jupiter-mass planets in close orbits about their parent stars has challenged models of planet formation. Recent observations have shown that a number of these planets have highly inclined, sometimes retrograde orbits about their parent stars, prompting much speculation as to their origin. It is known that migration alone cannot account for the observed population of these misaligned hot Jupiters, which suggests that dynamical processes after the gas disc dissipates play a substantial role in yielding the observed inclination and eccentricity distributions. Read More

Affiliations: 1Univ. of California Santa Cruz, 2Jacobs University Bremen, 3Univ. of California Santa Cruz, 4Jacobs University Bremen

We present three-dimensional simulations on a new mechanism for the detonation of a sub-Chandrasekhar CO white dwarf in a dynamically unstable system where the secondary is either a pure He white dwarf or a He/CO hybrid. For dynamically unstable systems where the accretion stream directly impacts the surface of the primary, the final tens of orbits can have mass accretion rates that range from $10^{-5}$ to $10^{-3} M_{\odot}$ s$^{-1}$, leading to the rapid accumulation of helium on the surface of the primary. After $\sim 10^{-2}$ $M_{\odot}$ of helium has been accreted, the ram pressure of the hot helium torus can deflect the accretion stream such that the stream no longer directly impacts the surface. Read More

Affiliations: 1Univ. of California Santa Cruz, 2Univ. of California Santa Cruz, 3Jacobs University Bremen, 4Univ. of California Santa Cruz
Category: Astrophysics

We describe a three-dimensional simulation of a $1 M_{\odot}$ solar-type star approaching a $10^{6} M_{\odot}$ black hole on a parabolic orbit with a pericenter distance well within the tidal radius. While falling towards the black hole, the star is not only stretched along the orbital direction but even more severely compressed at right angles to the orbit. The overbearing degree of compression achieved shortly after pericenter leads to the production of strong shocks which largely homogenize the temperature profile of the star, resulting in surface temperatures comparable to the initial temperature of the star's core. Read More