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Luminous [O iii] and [N ii] from tidally disrupted horizontal branch stars




We model the emission lines generated in the photoionized debris of a tidally disrupted horizontal branch (HB) star. We find that at late times, the brightest optical emission lines are [N ii] λλ6548, 6583 and [O iii] λλ4959, 5007. Models of a red clump HB star undergoing mild disruption by a massive (50–100 M) black hole (BH) yield an emission-line spectrum that is in good agreement with that observed in the NGC 1399 globular cluster hosting the ultraluminous X-ray source CXOJ033831.8−352604. We make predictions for the ultraviolet emission-line spectrum that can verify the tidal disruption scenario and constrain the mass of the BH.