We consider the situation where the luminosity from a transient event is reprocessed by an optically thick wind. Potential applications are the tidal disruption of stars by black holes (BHs), engine-powered supernovae, and unique fast transients found by current and future wide-field surveys. We derive relations between the injected and observed luminosity for steady and time-dependent winds, and discuss how the temperature is set for scattering-dominated radiative transport. We apply this framework to specific examples of tidal disruption events and the formation of a BH by a massive star, as well as discuss other applications such as deriving observables from detailed hydrodynamic simulations. We conclude by exploring what is inferred about the mass-loss rate and underlying engine powering AT 2018cow if it is explained as a wind-reprocessed transient, demonstrating that its optical emission is consistent with reprocessing of the observed soft X-rays.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- May 2020
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- 13 pages, 7 figures, version accepted for publication in ApJ, added panel to Figure 7 and short discussion on the X-ray production efficiency of AT2018cow