Determining the final result of black hole-neutron star mergers, and in
particular the amount of matter remaining outside the black hole at late times
and its properties, has been one of the main motivations behind the numerical
simulation of these systems. Black hole-neutron star binaries are amongst the
most likely progenitors of short gamma-ray bursts --- as long as massive
(probably a few percents of a solar mass), hot accretion disks are formed
around the black hole. Whether this actually happens strongly depends on the
physical characteristics of the system, and in particular on the mass ratio,
the spin of the black hole, and the radius of the neutron star. We present here
a simple two-parameter model, fitted to existing numerical results, for the
determination of the mass remaining outside the black hole a few milliseconds
after a black hole-neutron star merger (i.e. the combined mass of the accretion
disk, the tidal tail, and the potential ejecta). This model predicts the
remnant mass within a few percents of the mass of the neutron star, at least
for remnant masses up to 20% of the neutron star mass. Results across the range
of parameters deemed to be the most likely astrophysically are presented here.
We find that, for 10 solar mass black holes, massive disks are only possible
for large neutron stars (R>12km), or quasi-extremal black hole spins (a/M>0.9).
We also use our model to discuss how the equation of state of the neutron star
affects the final remnant, and the strong influence that this can have on the
rate of short gamma-ray bursts produced by black hole-neutron star mergers.