The Tidal Disruption of Stars by Massive Black Holes

Volume 79 in the Space Sciences Series of ISSI

This volume provides an overview of the fast-developing field of tidal disruption events.

For several decades, astronomers have speculated that a hapless star could wander too close to a super massive black hole (SMBH) and be torn apart by tidal forces. It is only with the recent advent of numerous wide-field transient surveys that such events have been detected in the form of giant-amplitude, luminous flares of electromagnetic radiation from the centers of otherwise quiescent galaxies. These discoveries span the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from γ-rays through X-rays, ultra-violet, optical, infrared, and radio. A small number of events launch relativistic jets. These tidal disruption events (TDEs) have caused widespread excitement as they can be used to study the properties of quiescent, otherwise undetectable, SMBHs; the populations and dynamics of stars in galactic nuclei; the physics of black hole accretion including the potential to detect relativistic effects near the SMBH; and the physics of (radio) jet formation and evolution in a pristine environment. For scientific questions concerning quiescent SMBHs, TDEs are unique probes beyond the local universe. TDEs can also occur around active galactic nuclei (AGNs), although uniquely identifying such an event on top of a bright AGN is difficult.

Currently, the diverse emission properties of flares associated with TDEs is not fully understood. This challenge is being addressed by a sharp increase in observational work and theoretical modelling. Over the next few years, the largest growth areas will likely be in the greatly expanded surveys of the transient sky, and in new numerical modeling techniques. Together these will reveal how SMBHs shine by ripping apart orbiting stars and swallowing the stellar debris.

In light of this foreseen growth, many new researchers are expected to enter the field. Therefore, the time was deemed ripe to compose a comprehensive overview of the state of the art in this rapidly-evolving field. This volume results from a Workshop held at the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern on 8–12 October, 2018.

The book is edited by Peter G. Jonker, Iair Arcavi, E. Sterl Phinney, Elena M. Rossi, Nicholas C. Stone and Sjoert van Velzen

This Volume is co-published as Topical Collection in Space Science Reviews (partial Open Access) >>

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Geohazards and Risks Studied from Earth Observations

Volume 82 in the Space Sciences Series of ISSI

The Sentinel missions of the COPERNICUS Programme of the European Union, as well as other Earth Observation missions, provide new opportunities for systematic monitoring of natural and man-made hazards and disasters that can highly impact human societies.
The contributions collected in this book address a broad range of geohazards observable from space, including earthquakes, volcanic hazards, extreme events (e.g. storm surges, floods and droughts), fires, pollution, tipping points in physical and biological systems, etc. They provide information on how space observations can improve our understanding of the driving mechanisms at the origin of such geohazards, and of their mutual interactions. Focus is given on the expected added-value information obtained by combining different types of space-based and in situ observations as well as model results.

This volume results from the ISSI Workshop “Natural and Man-Made Hazards Monitoring by the Earth Observation Missions: Current Status and Scientific Gaps” held from 15 to 18 April 2019.

This volume is edited by T. Lopez, A. Cazenave, M. Mandea, J. Benveniste 

This volume is co-published in Surveys in Geophysics, 41, 6, November 2020 (partial Open Access) >>

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Auroral Physics

Volume 78 in the Space Sciences Series of ISSI

This volume surveys our current scientific understanding of the terrestrial aurora. It is organized into eleven reviews detailing theoretical and observational aspects of characteristic auroral morphologies, and how these in turn are organized according to local time, latitude, and activity level. 

Popular descriptions often attribute the aurora to the interaction of charged particles from the solar wind with atoms in the upper atmosphere. In fact, most auroras are not the result of direct entry of solar wind particles. Rather, as detailed in this volume, auroral particle acceleration and generation of auroral forms occur primarily within the magnetosphere. Importantly, many key aspects of the aurora – most notably, the physical mechanisms responsible for the generation of discrete arcs – are still unexplained, and auroral physics continues to be an active area of scientific research. Each review chapter therefore includes a summary of open questions for further investigation. 

This volume results from the ISSI Workshop Auroral Physics held from 6 to 10 August 2018.

This volume is edited by D.J. Knudsen, J.E. Borovsky, T. Karlsson, R. Kataoka, N. Partamies

This volume is co-published in Space Science Reviews in the Topical Collection “Auroral Physics” (Partial Open Access) >>

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Understanding the Diversity of Planetary Atmospheres

Volume 81 in the Space Sciences Series of ISSI

Thanks to the observation of a growing number of planetary atmospheres, we are at the dawn of a major scientific revolution in atmospheric and climate sciences. But are we ready to understand what will be discovered around other stars? 

This book brings together 15 review chapters that study and provide up-to-date information on the physical and chemical processes that control the nature of atmospheres. It identifies commonalities between various solar system atmospheres, analyzes the dynamic processes behind different atmospheric circulation regimes, and outlines key questions remaining in solar system science.

This volume results from a Workshop organized at ISSI, on November 12-16, 2018, with the support of the Europlanet Research Infrastructure of the EU.

This volume is dedicated to the memory of Adam P. Showman, a creative thinker, brilliant scientist, pioneer and leader in the study of the diversity and dynamics of planetary atmospheres.

This book is edited by F. Forget, O. Korablev, J. Venturini, T. Imamura, H. Lammer, M. Blanc

This volume is co-published in Space Science Reviews in the Topical Collection “Understanding the Diversity of Planetary Atmospheres” (Partial Open Access) >>

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Reading Terrestrial Planet Evolution in Isotopes and Element Measurements

Volume 80 in the Space Sciences Series of ISSI

This volume takes an interdisciplinary approach to the evolution of terrestrial planets, addressing the topic from the perspectives of planetary sciences, geochemistry, geophysics and biology, and solar and astrophysics.
The review papers analyze the chemical, isotopic and elemental evolution of the early Solar System, with specific emphasis on Venus, Earth, and Mars. They discuss how these factors contribute to our understanding of accretion timescales, volatile delivery, the origin of the Moon and the evolution of atmospheres and water inventories of terrestrial planets. Also explored are plate tectonic formation, the origin of nitrogen atmospheres and the prospects for exoplanet habitability.The papers are forward-looking as well, considering the importance of future space missions for understanding terrestrial planet evolution in the Solar System and beyond. Overall, this volume shall be useful for academic and professional audiences across a range of scientific disciplines.

This volume is based on an interdisciplinary international Workshop organised by Europlanet and ISSI, which took place at ISSI, in Bern (Switzerland) during October 22 and 26, 2018 where about 48 leading scientists discussed the issues presented here.

The papers are edited by H. Lammer, B. Marty, A. Zerkle, M. Blanc, H. O’Neill, T. Kleine

This volume is co-published in Space Science Reviews in the Topical Collection “Reading Terrestrial Planet Evolution in Isotopes and Element Measurements” (Partial Open Access) >>

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