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A luminous X-ray transient in SDSS J143359.16+400636.0: a likely tidal disruption event

Presentation #111.04 in the session “Time Domain Astrophysics (Poster)”.

Published onApr 01, 2022
A luminous X-ray transient in SDSS J143359.16+400636.0: a likely tidal disruption event

We present the discovery of a luminous X-ray transient, serendipitously detected by Swift’s X-ray Telescope (XRT) on 2020 February 5, located in the nucleus of the galaxy SDSS J143359.16+400636.0 at z = 0.099 (luminosity distance DL = 456 Mpc). The transient was observed to reach a peak luminosity of ~1044 erg s-1 in the 0.3–10 keV X-ray band, which was ~20 times more than the peak optical/UV luminosity. Optical, UV, and X-ray lightcurves from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and Swift show a decline in flux from the source consistent with t-5/3, and observations with NuSTAR and Chandra show a soft X-ray spectrum with photon index Γ = 2.9 ± 0.1. The X-ray/UV properties are inconsistent with well known active galactic nuclei (AGN) properties and have more in common with known X-ray tidal disruption events (TDE), leading us to conclude that it was likely a TDE. The broadband spectral energy distribution (SED) can be described well by a disk blackbody model with an inner disk temperature of 7.3 × 105 K, with a large fraction (> 40%) of the disk emission up-scattered into the X-ray band. An optical spectrum taken with Keck/LRIS after the X-ray detection reveals LINER line ratios in the host galaxy, suggesting low-level accretion on to the supermassive black hole prior to the event, but no broad lines or other indications of a TDE were seen. The stellar velocity dispersion implies the mass of the supermassive black hole powering the event is log(MBH/M)= 7.41±0.41, and we estimate that at peak the Eddington fraction of this event was ~50%. This likely TDE was not identified by wide-field optical surveys, nor optical spectroscopy, indicating that more events like this would be missed without wide-field UV or X-ray surveys.

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