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Tidal Disruption Events in the Infrared

Presentation #306.03 in the session Tidal Disruption Events Across the Electromagnetic Spectrum.

Published onMay 03, 2024
Tidal Disruption Events in the Infrared

Tidal disruption events (TDEs) are powerful probes of the demographics and rapid growth of supermassive black holes (SMBHs). However, the use of TDEs to infer SMBH demographics requires sufficient knowledge of selection effects and biases. While TDEs are now routinely found in time-domain optical and soft X-ray surveys, there is growing evidence that these surveys reveal only a fraction of the total population, notably missing highly dust-obscured sources. In this talk, I will present new efforts to search for these dust-obscured TDEs, namely using the infrared (IR) to search for dust echoes from these hidden TDEs. With novel difference imaging techniques applied to WISE mid-IR data, we found 12 new TDEs within 200 Mpc, nearly doubling the number of known optical TDEs in the same volume. Most of these IR-selected TDEs show no evidence for a variable optical counterpart, suggesting that this sample indeed represents a new population of dust-obscured TDEs that have been historically missed by canonical TDE searches. I will discuss how this sample helps solve many of the open questions in the field of TDE physics, including host galaxy demographics, discrepancies between theoretical and observed TDE rates, and the so-called missing energy problem.

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