Magnetic field evolution in tidal disruption events

Clément Bonnerot, Daniel J. Price, Giuseppe Lodato, Elena M. Rossi

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23 Citations (Scopus)


When a star gets tidally disrupted by a supermassive black hole, its magnetic field is expected to pervade its debris. In this paper, we study this process via smoothed particle magnetohydrodynamical simulations of the disruption and early debris evolution including the stellar magnetic field. As the gas stretches into a stream, we show that the magnetic field evolution is strongly dependent on its orientation with respect to the stretching direction. In particular, an alignment of the field lines with the direction of stretching induces an increase of the magnetic energy. For disruptions happening well within the tidal radius, the star compression causes the magnetic field strength to sharply increase by an order of magnitude at the time of pericentre passage. If the disruption is partial, we find evidence for a dynamo process occurring inside the surviving core due to the formation of vortices. This causes an amplification of the magnetic field strength by a factor of ~10. However, this value represents a lower limit since it increases with numerical resolution. For an initial field strength of 1 G, the magnetic field never becomes dynamically important. Instead, the disruption of a star with a strong 1 MG magnetic field produces a debris stream within which magnetic pressure becomes similar to gas pressure a few tens of hours after disruption. If the remnant of one or multiple partial disruptions is eventually fully disrupted, its magnetic field could be large enough to magnetically power the relativistic jet detected from Swift J1644+57. Magnetized streams could also be significantly thickened by magnetic pressure when it overcomes the confining effect of self-gravity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4879-4888
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • MHD

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