The Post-starburst Evolution of Tidal Disruption Event Host Galaxies

K. Decker French, Iair Arcavi, Ann Zabludoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


We constrain the recent star formation histories of the host galaxies of eight optical/UV-detected tidal disruption events (TDEs). Six hosts had quick starbursts of <200 Myr duration that ended 10-1000 Myr ago, indicating that TDEs arise at different times in their hosts' post-starburst evolution. If the disrupted star formed in the burst or before, the post-burst age constrains its mass, generally excluding O, most B, and highly massive A stars. If the starburst arose from a galaxy merger, the time since the starburst began limits the coalescence timescale and thus the merger mass ratio to more equal than 12:1 in most hosts. This uncommon ratio, if also that of the central supermassive black hole (SMBH) binary, disfavors the scenario in which the TDE rate is boosted by the binary but is insensitive to its mass ratio. The stellar mass fraction created in the burst is 0.5%-10% for most hosts, not enough to explain the observed 30-200× boost in TDE rates, suggesting that the host's core stellar concentration is more important. TDE hosts have stellar masses 109.4-1010.3Mo, consistent with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey volume-corrected, quiescent Balmer-strong comparison sample and implying SMBH masses of 105.5-107.5 Mo. Subtracting the host absorption line spectrum, we uncover emission lines; at least five hosts have ionization sources inconsistent with star formation that instead may be related to circumnuclear gas, merger shocks, or post-AGB stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number176
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: nuclei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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