Black hole accretion discs and luminous transients in failed supernovae from non-rotating supergiants

E. Quataert, D. Lecoanet, E. R. Coughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


We show that for supergiants, net angular momentum is not a necessary condition for forming accretion discs during core collapse. Even absent net rotation, convective motions in the outer parts of supergiants generate mean horizontal flows at a given radius with velocities of {sim } 1 , {rm km , s}^{-1}; the direction of the mean flow will vary as a function of height through the convection zone. We confirm these analytic estimates using Cartesian Boussinesq convection simulations. These mean horizontal flows lead to a random angular momentum in supergiant convection zones that exceeds that of the last stable circular orbit of a black hole by a factor of ∼10. As a result, failed explosions of supergiants - in which the accretion shock on to the neutron star does not revive, leading to black hole formation - may often produce accretion discs that can power day-week (blue supergiants) or week-year (yellow and red supergiants) non-thermal and thermal transients through winds and jets. These transients will be especially time variable because the angular momentum of the accreting material will vary substantially in time. Observed sources such as Swift J1644+57, iPTF14hls, and SN 2018cow, as well as energetic Type II supernovae (OGLE-2014-SN-073), may be produced by this mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L83-L88
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • black hole physics
  • convection
  • stars: massive
  • supernovae: general


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