Alumni News, Mentor News

Lamat Alumnae Brenna Mockler and Angela Twum and Co-Authors Unveil Preferential Disruption of Moderately Massive Stars by Supermassive Black Holes

Brenna Mockler and Angela Twum

Lamat Alumna and mentor Brenna Mockler and Lamat Alumna Angela Twum together with a team of Lamat Mentors Sierra Dodd, Katie Auchtetll, Jamie Law-Smith, and Executive Director Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz teamed up to examine the stellar populations around supermassive black holes. Their work, published in the Astrophysical Journal, looks at tidal disruption events (TDEs) caused by supermassive black holes (SMBH) and the light spectra observed to determine the mass of the black hole and the star disrupted. With this information, the team determined that moderately massive disruptions are over-represented when compared to the overall stellar population of the post-starburst galaxy hosts. This implies that SMBHs are preferentially disrupting higher mass stars, possibly due to ongoing top-heavy star formation in nuclear star clusters or to dynamical mechanisms that preferentially transport higher mass stars to their tidal radii.

The full paper can be viewed here.