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Title: Relativistic jet activity from the tidal disruption of a star by a massive black hole [Discovery of the onset of rapid accretion by a dormant massive black hole]

Abstract

Supermassive black holes have powerful gravitational fields with strong gradients that can destroy stars that get too close producing a bright flare in ultraviolet and X-ray spectral regions from stellar debris that forms an accretion disk around the black hole. The aftermath of this process may have been seen several times over the past two decades in the form of sparsely sampled, slowly fading emission from distant galaxies, but the onset of the stellar disruption event has not hitherto been observed. Here we report observations of a bright X-ray flare from the extragalactic transient Swift J164449.3+573451. This source increased in brightness in the X-ray band by a factor of at least 10,000 since 1990 and by a factor of at least 100 since early 2010. We conclude that we have captured the onset of relativistic jet activity from a supermassive black hole. A companion paper comes to similar conclusions on the basis of radio observations. Furthermore, this event is probably due to the tidal disruption of a star falling into a supermassive black hole, but the detailed behaviour differs from current theoretical models of such events.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [1];  [3];  [6];  [1];  [5];  [2];  [5];  [7];  [1];  [8];  [2];  [6];  [2];  [9] more »;  [10];  [5];  [2];  [1];  [11];  [12];  [13];  [14];  [15];  [14];  [16];  [14];  [17];  [14];  [12];  [18];  [1];  [19];  [20];  [14];  [6];  [21];  [22];  [2];  [18];  [11];  [23];  [24];  [25];  [18];  [3];  [9];  [2];  [9];  [18];  [3];  [1];  [18] « less
  1. Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States)
  2. INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, Merate (Italy)
  3. INAF - Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica, Palermo (Italy)
  4. Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV (United States)
  5. Univ. of Leicester, Leicester (United Kingdom)
  6. CRESST, Greenbelt, MD (United States); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States); Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Baltimore, MD (United States)
  7. Univ. College London, Dorking (United Kingdom)
  8. CRESST, Greenbelt, MD (United States); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States); Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Baltimore, MD (United States)
  9. ASI Science Data Center, Frascati (Italy)
  10. INAF- Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Capoterra (Italy)
  11. Kyoto Univ., Kyoto (Japan)
  12. CRESST, Greenbelt, MD (United States); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States); Univ. Space Research Assoc., Columbia, MD (United States)
  13. Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taipei (Taiwan)
  14. Seoul National Univ., Seoul (Republic of Korea)
  15. INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Monteporzio Catone (Italy)
  16. Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), Daejeon (Republic of Korea)
  17. Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo (Japan); RIKEN, Saitama (Japan)
  18. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States)
  19. Nihon Univ., Tokyo (Japan)
  20. Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA (United States)
  21. RIKEN, Saitama (Japan)
  22. Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), Daejeon (Republic of Korea); Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo (Japan)
  23. National Central Univ., Chung-Li (Taiwan)
  24. Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo (Japan)
  25. ASI Science Data Center, Frascati (Italy); INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, Monteporzio Catone (Italy)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1357206
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-76SF00515
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature (London)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Nature (London); Journal Volume: 476; Journal Issue: 7361; Journal ID: ISSN 0028-0836
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; astronomy; astrophysics

Citation Formats

Burrows, D. N., Kennea, J. A., Ghisellini, G., Mangano, V., Zhang, B., Page, K. L., Eracleous, M., Romano, P., Sakamoto, T., Falcone, A. D., Osborne, J. P., Campana, S., Beardmore, A. P., Breeveld, A. A., Chester, M. M., Corbet, R., Covino, S., Cummings, J. R., D'Avanzo, P., D'Elia, V., Esposito, P., Evans, P. A., Fugazza, D., Gelbord, J. M., Hiroi, K., Holland, S. T., Huang, K. Y., Im, M., Israel, G., Jeon, Y., Jeon, Y. -B., Jun, H. D., Kawai, N., Kim, J. H., Krimm, H. A., Marshall, F. E., Mészáros, P., Negoro, H., Omodei, N., Park, W. -K., Perkins, J. S., Sugizaki, M., Sung, H. -I., Tagliaferri, G., Troja, E., Ueda, Y., Urata, Y., Usui, R., Antonelli, L. A., Barthelmy, S. D., Cusumano, G., Giommi, P., Melandri, A., Perri, M., Racusin, J. L., Sbarufatti, B., Siegel, M. H., and Gehrels, N. Relativistic jet activity from the tidal disruption of a star by a massive black hole [Discovery of the onset of rapid accretion by a dormant massive black hole]. United States: N. p., 2011. Web. doi:10.1038/nature10374.
Burrows, D. N., Kennea, J. A., Ghisellini, G., Mangano, V., Zhang, B., Page, K. L., Eracleous, M., Romano, P., Sakamoto, T., Falcone, A. D., Osborne, J. P., Campana, S., Beardmore, A. P., Breeveld, A. A., Chester, M. M., Corbet, R., Covino, S., Cummings, J. R., D'Avanzo, P., D'Elia, V., Esposito, P., Evans, P. A., Fugazza, D., Gelbord, J. M., Hiroi, K., Holland, S. T., Huang, K. Y., Im, M., Israel, G., Jeon, Y., Jeon, Y. -B., Jun, H. D., Kawai, N., Kim, J. H., Krimm, H. A., Marshall, F. E., Mészáros, P., Negoro, H., Omodei, N., Park, W. -K., Perkins, J. S., Sugizaki, M., Sung, H. -I., Tagliaferri, G., Troja, E., Ueda, Y., Urata, Y., Usui, R., Antonelli, L. A., Barthelmy, S. D., Cusumano, G., Giommi, P., Melandri, A., Perri, M., Racusin, J. L., Sbarufatti, B., Siegel, M. H., & Gehrels, N. Relativistic jet activity from the tidal disruption of a star by a massive black hole [Discovery of the onset of rapid accretion by a dormant massive black hole]. United States. doi:10.1038/nature10374.
Burrows, D. N., Kennea, J. A., Ghisellini, G., Mangano, V., Zhang, B., Page, K. L., Eracleous, M., Romano, P., Sakamoto, T., Falcone, A. D., Osborne, J. P., Campana, S., Beardmore, A. P., Breeveld, A. A., Chester, M. M., Corbet, R., Covino, S., Cummings, J. R., D'Avanzo, P., D'Elia, V., Esposito, P., Evans, P. A., Fugazza, D., Gelbord, J. M., Hiroi, K., Holland, S. T., Huang, K. Y., Im, M., Israel, G., Jeon, Y., Jeon, Y. -B., Jun, H. D., Kawai, N., Kim, J. H., Krimm, H. A., Marshall, F. E., Mészáros, P., Negoro, H., Omodei, N., Park, W. -K., Perkins, J. S., Sugizaki, M., Sung, H. -I., Tagliaferri, G., Troja, E., Ueda, Y., Urata, Y., Usui, R., Antonelli, L. A., Barthelmy, S. D., Cusumano, G., Giommi, P., Melandri, A., Perri, M., Racusin, J. L., Sbarufatti, B., Siegel, M. H., and Gehrels, N. Wed . "Relativistic jet activity from the tidal disruption of a star by a massive black hole [Discovery of the onset of rapid accretion by a dormant massive black hole]". United States. doi:10.1038/nature10374. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1357206.
@article{osti_1357206,
title = {Relativistic jet activity from the tidal disruption of a star by a massive black hole [Discovery of the onset of rapid accretion by a dormant massive black hole]},
author = {Burrows, D. N. and Kennea, J. A. and Ghisellini, G. and Mangano, V. and Zhang, B. and Page, K. L. and Eracleous, M. and Romano, P. and Sakamoto, T. and Falcone, A. D. and Osborne, J. P. and Campana, S. and Beardmore, A. P. and Breeveld, A. A. and Chester, M. M. and Corbet, R. and Covino, S. and Cummings, J. R. and D'Avanzo, P. and D'Elia, V. and Esposito, P. and Evans, P. A. and Fugazza, D. and Gelbord, J. M. and Hiroi, K. and Holland, S. T. and Huang, K. Y. and Im, M. and Israel, G. and Jeon, Y. and Jeon, Y. -B. and Jun, H. D. and Kawai, N. and Kim, J. H. and Krimm, H. A. and Marshall, F. E. and Mészáros, P. and Negoro, H. and Omodei, N. and Park, W. -K. and Perkins, J. S. and Sugizaki, M. and Sung, H. -I. and Tagliaferri, G. and Troja, E. and Ueda, Y. and Urata, Y. and Usui, R. and Antonelli, L. A. and Barthelmy, S. D. and Cusumano, G. and Giommi, P. and Melandri, A. and Perri, M. and Racusin, J. L. and Sbarufatti, B. and Siegel, M. H. and Gehrels, N.},
abstractNote = {Supermassive black holes have powerful gravitational fields with strong gradients that can destroy stars that get too close producing a bright flare in ultraviolet and X-ray spectral regions from stellar debris that forms an accretion disk around the black hole. The aftermath of this process may have been seen several times over the past two decades in the form of sparsely sampled, slowly fading emission from distant galaxies, but the onset of the stellar disruption event has not hitherto been observed. Here we report observations of a bright X-ray flare from the extragalactic transient Swift J164449.3+573451. This source increased in brightness in the X-ray band by a factor of at least 10,000 since 1990 and by a factor of at least 100 since early 2010. We conclude that we have captured the onset of relativistic jet activity from a supermassive black hole. A companion paper comes to similar conclusions on the basis of radio observations. Furthermore, this event is probably due to the tidal disruption of a star falling into a supermassive black hole, but the detailed behaviour differs from current theoretical models of such events.},
doi = {10.1038/nature10374},
journal = {Nature (London)},
number = 7361,
volume = 476,
place = {United States},
year = {2011},
month = {8}
}

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Works referenced in this record:

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The tidal disruption of a star by a massive black hole
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Three-Dimensional Simulations of Tidally Disrupted Solar-Type Stars and the Observational Signatures of Shock Breakout
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Optical flares from the tidal disruption of stars by massive black holes: Optical signatures of tidally disrupted stars
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Candidate tidal disruption events from the XMM-Newton slew survey
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UV/Optical Detections of Candidate Tidal Disruption Events by GALEX and CFHTLS
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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Radio follow-up observations of stellar tidal disruption flares: Constraints on off-axis jets
    journal, January 2012


    Radio afterglow of the jetted tidal disruption event Swift J1644+57
    journal, January 2012


    Tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes: The X-ray view
    journal, January 2012


    The optical/NIR afterglow of GRB 111209A: Complex yet not unprecedented
    journal, September 2018


    Prompt emission from tidal disruptions of white dwarfs by intermediate mass black holes
    journal, January 2012


    Discovery of a tidal disruption event candidate from the 2XMM catalog
    journal, January 2012


    Tidally disrupted stars as a possible origin of both cosmic rays and neutrinos at the highest energies
    journal, July 2018


    Time scales in tidal disruption events
    journal, January 2012


    Evolution and precession of accretion disk in tidal disruption events
    journal, January 2012


    GROND coverage of the main peak of gamma-ray burst 130925A
    journal, August 2014


    Relativistic tidal disruption events
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    Energetic and Broad Band Spectral Distribution of Emission from Astronomical Jets
    journal, July 2013


    Hard X-Ray/Soft Gamma-Ray Experiments and Missions: Overview and Prospects
    journal, October 2017


    Can a satellite galaxy merger explain the active past of the Galactic Centre?
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    • Lang, M.; Holley-Bockelmann, K.; Bogdanović, T.
    • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 430, Issue 4
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    Recurring flares from supermassive black hole binaries: implications for tidal disruption candidates and OJ 287
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    • Tanaka, Takamitsu L.
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    • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt1164

    Tidal-disruption rate of stars by spinning supermassive black holes
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    Observing Lense-Thirring Precession in Tidal Disruption Flares
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    Explosions throughout the universe
    journal, February 2017

    • Gehrels, Neil; Cannizzo, John K.
    • International Journal of Modern Physics D, Vol. 26, Issue 02
    • DOI: 10.1142/s0218271817300038

    Energetic and Broad Band Spectral Distribution of Emission from Astronomical Jets
    journal, July 2013


    Hard X-Ray/Soft Gamma-Ray Experiments and Missions: Overview and Prospects
    journal, October 2017


    Tidally disrupted stars as a possible origin of both cosmic rays and neutrinos at the highest energies
    journal, July 2018


    GROND coverage of the main peak of gamma-ray burst 130925A
    journal, August 2014


    The optical/NIR afterglow of GRB 111209A: Complex yet not unprecedented
    journal, September 2018


    Tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes: The X-ray view
    journal, January 2012


    Discovery of a tidal disruption event candidate from the 2XMM catalog
    journal, January 2012


    Relativistic tidal disruption events
    journal, January 2012


    Time scales in tidal disruption events
    journal, January 2012


    Prompt emission from tidal disruptions of white dwarfs by intermediate mass black holes
    journal, January 2012


    Radio afterglow of the jetted tidal disruption event Swift J1644+57
    journal, January 2012


    Radio follow-up observations of stellar tidal disruption flares: Constraints on off-axis jets
    journal, January 2012


    Evolution and precession of accretion disk in tidal disruption events
    journal, January 2012


    Can a satellite galaxy merger explain the active past of the Galactic Centre?
    journal, February 2013

    • Lang, M.; Holley-Bockelmann, K.; Bogdanović, T.
    • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 430, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sts638

    Recurring flares from supermassive black hole binaries: implications for tidal disruption candidates and OJ 287
    journal, July 2013

    • Tanaka, Takamitsu L.
    • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 434, Issue 3
    • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt1164

    Tidal-disruption rate of stars by spinning supermassive black holes
    journal, January 2012


    Observing Lense-Thirring Precession in Tidal Disruption Flares
    journal, February 2012


    Explosions throughout the universe
    journal, February 2017

    • Gehrels, Neil; Cannizzo, John K.
    • International Journal of Modern Physics D, Vol. 26, Issue 02
    • DOI: 10.1142/s0218271817300038