We present an analytic model for computing the luminosity and spectral evolution of flares caused by a supermassive black hole impacting the accretion disc of another supermassive black hole. Our model includes photon diffusion, emission from optically thin regions and relativistic corrections to the observed spectrum and time-scales. We test the observability of the impact scenario with a simulated population of quasars hosting supermassive black hole binaries. The results indicate that for a moderate binary mass ratio of 0.3, and impact distances of 100 primary Schwarzschild radii, the accretion disc impacts can be expected to equal or exceed the host quasar in brightness at observed wavelength λ = 510 nm up to z = 0.6. We conclude that accretion disc impacts may function as an independent probe for supermassive black hole binaries. We release the code used for computing the model light curves to the community.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- April 2016
- accretion discs;
- black hole physics;
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena
- 17 pages, 5 figures, 4 tables. Accepted to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society