Abstract:
In this contribution, I review the recent developments on the modeling of the lightcurve of tidal disruption events. Our understanding has evolved significantly from the earlier seminal results that imply a simple power-law decay of the bolometric light curve as t 5/3. We now know that the details of the rise to the peak of the lightcurve is determined mainly by the internal structure of the disrupted star. We also have improved models for the disc thermal emission, showing that in this case the decline of the luminosity with time should be much flatter than the standard t 5/3 law, especially in optical and UV wavelengths, while the X-ray lightcurve is generally best suited to track the bolometric one. Finally, we are just starting to explore the interesting general relativistic effects that might arise for such events, for which the tidal radius lies very close to the black hole event horizon.

Abstract:
The nucleus of the Seyfert galaxy NGC 1068 is believed to host a supermassive black hole. Evidence for the presence of a massive central object is provided by water maser emission, which displays a linear pattern in the sky, suggestive of a rotating disk. The rotating disk hypothesis is further strengthened by the declining shape of the derived rotation curve. Similar maser emission from NGC 4258 has led to a reliable estimate of the mass of the central black hole, because in this case the rotation curve is Keplerian. In the case of NGC 1068 the rotation curve traced by the water maser is non-Keplerian. In this paper we provide an interpretation of the non-Keplerian rotation in NGC 1068 by means of a self-gravitating accretion disk model. We obtain a good fit to the available data and derive a black hole mass M_{bh}=(8.0\pm 0.3) 10^6M_{sun}. The resulting disk mass is comparable to the black hole mass. As an interesting by-product of our fitting procedure, we are able to estimate the viscosity parameter, which turns out to be \alpha\approx 10^{-2}, in line with some theoretical expectations.

Abstract:
The long wavelength emission of protostellar objects is commonly attributed to a disk of gas and dust around the central protostar. In the first stages of disk accretion or in the case of high mass protostars, the disk mass is likely to be sufficiently large, so that the disk self-gravity may have an impact on the dynamics and the emission properties of the disk. In this paper we describe the spectral energy distribution (SED) produced by a simple, non-flaring, self-gravitating accretion disk model. Self-gravity is included in the calculation of the rotation curve of the disk and in the energy balance equation, as a term of effective heating related to Jeans instability. In order to quantify in detail the requirements on the mass of the disk and on the accretion rate posed on the models by realistic situations, we compare the SEDs produced by these models with the observed SEDs of a small sample of well-studied protostellar objects. We find that relatively modest disks - even lighter than the central star - can lead to an interesting fit to the infrared SED of the FU Orionis objects considered, while in the case of T Tauri stars the required parameters fall outside the range suggested as acceptable by the general theoretical and observational scenario. On the basis of the present results, we may conclude that the contribution of a self-gravitating disk is plausible in several cases (in particular, for FU Orionis objects) and that, in the standard irradiation dominated disk scenario, it would help softening the requirements encountered by Keplerian accretion models.

Abstract:
In the dynamics of accretion disks, the presence of collective effects associated with the self-gravity of the disk is expected to affect not only the momentum transport, but also the relevant energy balance equations, which could differ substantially from the non-self-gravitating case. Here we follow the picture that, when the disk is sufficiently cold, the stirring due to Jeans-related instabilities acts as a source of effective heating. The corresponding reformulation of the energy equations allows us to: ({\it i}) demonstrate how self-regulation can be established, so that the stability parameter $Q$ is maintained close to a threshold value, with weak dependence on radius; ({\it ii}) rediscuss the opacity properties in the self-gravitating regime. In particular, we show that, if cooling is dominated by {\it bremsstrahlung}, an optically thin stationary accretion solution is thermally stable, even in the non-advective case, provided the disk is self-gravitating. The details of the cooling function have little effect on the structure of such accretion disk, which is in any case brought by self-gravity to self-regulate. This condition of self-gravitating accretion is expected to be appropriate for the outer regions of many disks of astrophysical interest. With the reformulation of the energy equations described in this paper we have also secured: ({\it iii}) a starting point for the study of the emission properties of self-gravitating accretion disks; ({\it iv}) a tool to analyze the structure of the transition region, where the disk becomes self-gravitating.

Abstract:
We consider a class of steady-state self-gravitating accretion disks for which efficient cooling mechanisms are assumed to operate so that the disk is self-regulated at a condition of approximate marginal Jeans stability. In an earlier paper, this scenario had been shown to lead naturally, in the absence of a central point mass, to a self-similar solution characterized by a flat rotation curve. In this article we investigate the entire parameter space available for such self-regulated accretion disks and provide two non-trivial extensions of the model. The first extension is that of a bimodal disk, obtained by partially relaxing the self-regulation constraint, so that full matching with an inner "standard" Keplerian accretion disk takes place. The second extension is the construction of self-regulated accretion disks embedded in a diffuse spherical "halo". The analysis is further strengthened by a careful discussion of the vertical structure of the disk, in such a way that the transition from self-gravity dominated to non-gravitating disks is covered uniformly.

Abstract:
In this paper we revisit the issue of the propagation of warps in thin and viscous accretion discs. In this regime warps are know to propagate diffusively, with a diffusion coefficient approximately inversely proportional to the disc viscosity. Previous numerical investigations of this problem (Lodato & Pringle 2007) did not find a good agreement between the numerical results and the predictions of the analytic theories of warp propagation, both in the linear and in the non-linear case. Here, we take advantage of a new, low-memory and highly efficient SPH code to run a large set of very high resolution simulations (up to 20 million SPH particles) of warp propagation, implementing an isotropic disc viscosity in different ways, to investigate the origin of the discrepancy between the theory and the numerical results. Our new and improved analysis now shows a remarkable agreement with the analytic theory both in the linear and in the non-linear regime, in terms of warp diffusion coefficient and precession rate. It is worth noting that the resulting diffusion coefficient is inversely proportional to the disc viscosity only for small amplitude warps and small values of the disc $\alpha$ coefficient ($\alpha < 0.1$). For non-linear warps, the diffusion coefficient is a function of both radius and time, and is significantly smaller than the standard value. Warped accretion discs are present in many contexts, from protostellar discs to accretion discs around supermassive black holes. In all such cases, the exact value of the warp diffusion coefficient may strongly affect the evolution of the system and therefore its careful evaluation is critical in order to correctly estimate the system dynamics (abridged).

Abstract:
In this Letter we show that if planetesimals form in spiral features in self-gravitating discs, as previously suggested by the idealised simulations of Rice et al, then in realistic protostellar discs, this process will be restricted to the outer regions of the disc (i.e. at radii in excess of several tens of A.U.). This restriction relates to the requirement that dust has to be concentrated in spiral features on a timescale that is less than the (roughly dynamical) lifetime of such features, and that such rapid accumulation requires spiral features whose fractional amplitude is not much less than unity. This in turn requires that the cooling timescale of the gas is relatively short, which restricts the process to the outer disc. We point out that the efficient conversion of a large fraction of the primordial dust in the disc into planetesimals could rescue this material from the well known problem of rapid inward migration at a $\sim$ metre size scale and that in principle the collisional evolution of these objects could help to re-supply small dust to the protostellar disc. We also point out the possible implications of this scenario for the location of planetesimal belts inferred in debris discs around main sequence stars, but stress that further dynamical studies are required in order to establish whether the disc retains a memory of the initial site of planetesimal creation.

Abstract:
In this paper we present simulated observations of massive self-gravitating circumstellar discs using the Atacama Large Millimetre/sub-millimetre Array (ALMA). Using a smoothed particle hydrodynamics model of a $0.2M_{\odot}$ disc orbiting a $1M_{\odot}$ protostar, with a cooling model appropriate for discs at temperatures below $\sim 160$K and representative dust opacities, we have constructed maps of the expected emission at sub-mm wavelengths. We have then used the CASA ALMA simulator to generate simulated images and visibilities with various array configurations and observation frequencies, taking into account the expected thermal noise and atmospheric opacities. We find that at 345 GHz (870 $\mu$m) spiral structures at a resolution of a few AU should be readily detectable in approximately face-on discs out to distances of the Taurus-Auriga star-forming complex.

Abstract:
We examine the tidal disruption event scenario to explain Sw 1644+57, a powerful and persistent X-ray source which suddenly became active as GRB 110328A. The precise localization at the center of a z=0.35 galaxy argues for activity of the central engine as the underlying cause. We look at the suggestion by Bloom et al of the possibility of a tidal disruption event (TDE). We argue that Sw 1644+57 cannot be explained by the traditional TDE model in which the periastron distance is close to the tidal disruption radius - three independent lines of argument indicate the orbit must be deeply plunging or else the powerful jet we are observing could not be produced. These arguments stem from (i) comparing the early X-ray light curve to the expected theoretical fallback rate, (ii) looking at the time of transition to disk-dominated decay, and (iii) considering the TDE rate. Due to the extreme excess in the tidal force above that which would be required minimally to disrupt the star in a deeply plunging orbit at periastron, we suggest this scenario might be referred to more descriptively as a TOE (tidal obliteration event) rather than a TDE.

Abstract:
A tidal disruption event (TDE) occurs when a star wanders close enough to a black hole to be disrupted by its tidal force. The debris of a tidally disrupted star are expected to form an accretion disc around the supermassive black hole. The light curves of these events sometimes show a quasi-periodic modulation of the flux that can be associated with the precession of the accretion disc due to the Lense-Thirring ("frame-dragging") effect. Since the initial star orbit is in general inclined with respect to the black hole spin, this misalignment combined with the Lense-Thirring effect leads to a warp in the disc. In this paper we provide a simple model of the system composed by a thick and narrow accretion disc surrounding a spinning supermassive black hole, with the aim to: (a) compute the expected precession period as a function of the system parameters, (b) discuss the conditions that have to be satisfied in order to have rigid precession, (c) investigate the alignment process, highlighting how different mechanisms play a role leading the disc and the black hole angular momenta into alignment.