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Journal Article

Transient Stellar Collisions as Multimessenger Probes: Nonthermal, Gravitational-wave Emission and the Cosmic Ladder Argument


Seoane,  Pau Amaro
Infrared and Submillimeter Astronomy, MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Seoane, P. A. (2023). Transient Stellar Collisions as Multimessenger Probes: Nonthermal, Gravitational-wave Emission and the Cosmic Ladder Argument. The Astrophysical Journal, 947(1): 8. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/acb8b9.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000E-0FE2-3
In dense stellar clusters like galactic nuclei and globular clusters, stellar densities are so high that stars might physically collide with each other. In galactic nuclei the energy and power output can be close to, and even exceed, those from supernovae events. We address the event rate and the electromagnetic characteristics of collisions of main-sequence stars (MS) and red giants (RGs). We also investigate the case in which the cores form a binary and emit gravitational waves. In the case of RGs, this is particularly interesting because the cores are degenerate. We find that MS event rate can be as high as tens per year, and that of RGs 1 order of magnitude larger. The collisions are powerful enough to mimic supernovae or tidal disruptions events. We find Zwicky Transient Facility observational data that seem to exhibit the features we describe. The cores embedded in the gaseous debris experience a friction force that has an impact on the chirping mass of the gravitational wave. As a consequence, the two small cores in principle mimic two supermassive black holes merging. However, their evolution in frequency along with the precedent electromagnetic burst and the ulterior afterglow are efficient tools to reveal the impostors. In the particular case of RGs, we derive the properties of the degenerate He cores and their H-burning shells to analyze the formation of the binaries. The merger is such that it can be misclassified with SN Ia events. Because the masses and densities of the cores are so dissimilar in values depending on their evolutionary stage, the argument about standard candles and cosmic ladder should be reevaluated.