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AT 2019avd: a novel addition to the diverse population of nuclear transients

Malyali, A. and Rau, A. and Merloni, A. and Nandra, K. and Buchner, J. and Liu, Z. and Gezari, S. and Sollerman, J. and Shappee, B. and Trakhtenbrot, B. and Arcavi, I. and Ricci, C. and van Velzen, S. and Goobar, A. and Frederick, S. and Kawka, A. and Tartaglia, L. and Burke, J. and Hiramatsu, D. and Schramm, M. and van der Boom, D. and Anderson, G. and Miller-Jones, J. C. A. and Bellm, E. and Drake, A. and Duev, D. and Fremling, C. and Graham, M. and Masci, F. and Rusholme, B. and Soumagnac, M. and Walters, R. (2021) AT 2019avd: a novel addition to the diverse population of nuclear transients. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 647 . Art. No. A9. ISSN 0004-6361.

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We report on SRG/eROSITA, ZTF, ASAS-SN, Las Cumbres, NEOWISE-R, and Swift XRT/UVOT observations of the unique ongoing event AT 2019avd, located in the nucleus of a previously inactive galaxy at z = 0.029. eROSITA first observed AT 2019avd on 2020-04-28 during its first all sky survey, when it was detected as an ultra-soft X-ray source (kT ~ 85 eV) that was ≳90 times brighter in the 0.2−2 keV band than a previous 3σ upper flux detection limit (with no archival X-ray detection at this position). The ZTF optical light curve in the ~450 days preceding the eROSITA detection is double peaked, and the eROSITA detection coincides with the rise of the second peak. Follow-up optical spectroscopy shows the emergence of a Bowen fluorescence feature and high-ionisation coronal lines ([Fe X] 6375 Å, [Fe XIV] 5303 Å), along with persistent broad Balmer emission lines (FWHM ~ 1400 km s⁻¹). Whilst the X-ray properties make AT 2019avd a promising tidal disruption event (TDE) candidate, the optical properties are atypical for optically selected TDEs. We discuss potential alternative origins that could explain the observed properties of AT 2019avd, such as a stellar binary TDE candidate, or a TDE involving a super massive black hole binary.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Malyali, A.0000-0002-8851-4019
Rau, A.0000-0001-5990-6243
Merloni, A.0000-0002-0761-0130
Nandra, K.0000-0002-7150-9192
Buchner, J.0000-0003-0426-6634
Gezari, S.0000-0003-3703-5154
Sollerman, J.0000-0003-1546-6615
Shappee, B.0000-0003-4631-1149
Trakhtenbrot, B.0000-0002-3683-7297
Arcavi, I.0000-0001-7090-4898
Ricci, C.0000-0001-5231-2645
van Velzen, S.0000-0002-3859-8074
Goobar, A.0000-0002-4163-4996
Frederick, S.0000-0001-9676-730X
Kawka, A.0000-0002-4485-6471
Tartaglia, L.0000-0003-3433-1492
Hiramatsu, D.0000-0002-1125-9187
Anderson, G.0000-0001-6544-8007
Miller-Jones, J. C. A.0000-0003-3124-2814
Bellm, E.0000-0001-8018-5348
Duev, D.0000-0001-5060-8733
Fremling, C.0000-0002-4223-103X
Graham, M.0000-0002-3168-0139
Masci, F.0000-0002-8532-9395
Rusholme, B.0000-0001-7648-4142
Soumagnac, M.0000-0001-6753-1488
Walters, R.0000-0002-1835-6078
Additional Information:© A. Malyali et al. 2021. Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Open Access funding provided by Max Planck Society. Received 15 October 2020; Accepted 18 December 2020; Published online 26 February 2021. We thank the anonymous referee, and the journal editor, Sergio Campana, for constructive comments which helped improve this paper. A.M. thanks the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics at Kyoto University, where discussions held during the YITP workshop YITP-T-19-07 on International Molecule-type Workshop “Tidal Disruption Events: General Relativistic Transients” were useful to complete this work. A.M. thanks Mariuz Gromadzki, Giorgos Leloudas and Clive Tadhunter for sharing optical spectra. A.M. acknowledges support from and participation in the International Max-Planck Research School (IMPRS) on Astrophysics at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich (LMU). B.J.S. is supported by NSF grant AST-1907570. B.J.S. is also supported by NASA grant 80NSSC19K1717 and NSF grants AST-1920392 and AST-1911074. B.T. acknowledges support from the Israel Science Foundation (grant number 1849/19) I.A. is a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in the Gravity and the Extreme Universe Program and acknowledges support from that program, from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement number 852097), from the Israel Science Foundation (grant numbers 2108/18 and 2752/19), from the United States – Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), and from the Israeli Council for Higher Education Alon Fellowship. L.T. acknowledges support from MIUR (PRIN 2017 grant 20179ZF5KS). G.E.A. is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (project number DE180100346), funded by the Australian Government. This research was partially supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (project DP200102471). This work is based on data from eROSITA, the primary instrument aboard SRG, a joint Russian-German science mission supported by the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos), in the interests of the Russian Academy of Sciences represented by its Space Research Institute (IKI), and the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). The SRG spacecraft was built by Lavochkin Association (NPOL) and its subcontractors, and is operated by NPOL with support from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE). The development and construction of the eROSITA X-ray instrument was led by MPE, with contributions from the Dr. Karl Remeis Observatory Bamberg, the University of Hamburg Observatory, the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), and the Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Tübingen, with the support of DLR and the Max Planck Society. The Argelander Institute for Astronomy of the University of Bonn and the Ludwig Maximilians Universität Munich also participated in the science preparation for eROSITA. This work was based on observations obtained with the Samuel Oschin Telescope 48-inch and the 60-inch Telescope at the Palomar Observatory as part of the Zwicky Transient Facility project. Z.T.F. is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST-1440341 and a collaboration including Caltech, IPAC, the Weizmann Institute for Science, the Oskar Klein Center at Stockholm University, the University of Maryland, the University of Washington, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron and HumboldtUniversity, Los Alamos National Laboratories, the TANGO Consortium of Taiwan, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. Operations are conducted by COO, IPAC, and UW. SED Machine is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1106171. This publication makes use of data products from the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), which is a joint project of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona. NEOWISE is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We thank the Las Cumbres Observatory and its staff for its continuing support of the ASAS-SN project. ASAS-SN is supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through grant GBMF5490 to the Ohio State University, and NSF grants AST-1515927 and AST-1908570. Development of ASAS-SN has been supported by NSF grant AST-0908816, the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Foundation, the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics at the Ohio State University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences South America Center for Astronomy (CAS- SACA), and the Villum Foundation. The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys (PS1) have been made possible through contributions of the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Project Office, the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, The Johns Hopkins University, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, Queen’s University Belfast, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network Incorporated, the National Central University of Taiwan, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. NNX08AR22G issued through the Planetary Science Division of the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST-123877, the University of Maryland, and Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE). This work was partially based on observations made with the Nordic Optical Telescope, operated at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma, Spain, of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias. Some of the data presented here were obtained with ALFOSC, which is provided by the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia (IAA) under a joint agreement with the University of Copenhagen and NOTSA.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), Zwicky Transient Facility
Funding AgencyGrant Number
International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Astronomy and AstrophysicsUNSPECIFIED
Israel Science Foundation1849/19
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)UNSPECIFIED
European Research Council (ERC)852097
Israel Science Foundation2108/18
Israel Science Foundation2752/19
Binational Science Foundation (USA-Israel)UNSPECIFIED
Council for Higher Education (Israel)UNSPECIFIED
Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca (MIUR)20179ZF5KS
Australian Research CouncilDE180100346
Australian Research CouncilDP200102471
Russian Space AgencyUNSPECIFIED
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)UNSPECIFIED
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial PhysicsUNSPECIFIED
Max Planck SocietyUNSPECIFIED
ZTF partner institutionsUNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationGBMF5490
Mt. Cuba Astronomical FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP)UNSPECIFIED
Chinese Academy of Sciences South America Center for Astronomy (CASSACA)UNSPECIFIED
Villum FoundationUNSPECIFIED
University of MarylandUNSPECIFIED
Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:X-rays: galaxies – accretion, accretion disks – galaxies: nuclei
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210202-095220860
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:AT 2019avd: a novel addition to the diverse population of nuclear transients. A. Malyali, A. Rau, A. Merloni, K. Nandra, J. Buchner, Z. Liu, S. Gezari, J. Sollerman, B. Shappee, B. Trakhtenbrot, I. Arcavi, C. Ricci, S. van Velzen, A. Goobar, S. Frederick, A. Kawka, L. Tartaglia, J. Burke, D. Hiramatsu, M. Schramm, D. van der Boom, G. Anderson, J. C. A. Miller-Jones, E. Bellm, A. Drake, D. Duev, C. Fremling, M. Graham, F. Masci, B. Rusholme, M. Soumagnac and R. Walters. A&A, 647 (2021) A9; DOI:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107853
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:03 Feb 2021 23:37
Last Modified:01 Mar 2021 21:22

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