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FIRST J153350.8+272729: The Radio Afterglow of a Decades-old Tidal Disruption Event

Ravi, Vikram and Dykaar, Hannah and Codd, Jackson and Zaccagnini, Ginevra and Dong, Dillon and Drout, Maria R. and Gaensler, B. M. and Hallinan, Gregg and Law, Casey (2022) FIRST J153350.8+272729: The Radio Afterglow of a Decades-old Tidal Disruption Event. Astrophysical Journal, 925 (2). Art. No. 220. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac2b33.

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We present the discovery of the fading radio transient FIRST J153350.8+272729. The source had a maximum observed 5 GHz radio luminosity of 8 × 10³⁹ erg s⁻¹ in 1986, but by 2019 had faded by a factor of nearly 400. It is located at the center of a galaxy (SDSS J153350.89+272729) at 147 Mpc, which shows weak Type II Seyfert activity. We show that a tidal disruption event (TDE) is the preferred scenario for FIRST J153350.8+272729, although it could plausibly be interpreted as the afterglow of a long-duration γ-ray burst. This is only the second TDE candidate to be first discovered at radio wavelengths. Its luminosity fills a gap between the radio afterglows of subrelativistic TDEs in the local universe, and relativistic TDEs at high redshifts. The unusual properties of FIRST J153350.8+272729 (ongoing nuclear activity in the host galaxy, high radio luminosity) motivate more extensive TDE searches in untargeted radio surveys.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Ravi, Vikram0000-0002-7252-5485
Dong, Dillon0000-0001-9584-2531
Drout, Maria R.0000-0001-7081-0082
Gaensler, B. M.0000-0002-3382-9558
Hallinan, Gregg0000-0002-7083-4049
Law, Casey0000-0002-4119-9963
Additional Information:© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society. Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 2021 February 10; revised 2021 September 14; accepted 2021 September 15; published 2022 February 7. Contributions from G.Z. and J.C. were made through the Harvard Science Research Mentoring Program (SRMP; Graur 2018). Support for this program is provided by the National Science Foundation under award AST-1602595, City of Cambridge, the John G. Wolbach Library, Cambridge Rotary, and generous individuals. We thank Or Graur for useful discussions on the science, and for coordinating the 2018–2019 SRMP that made this research possible. The Dunlap Institute is funded through an endowment established by the David Dunlap family and the University of Toronto. H.D. and B.M.G. acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through grant RGPIN-2015-05948, and of the Canada Research Chairs program. M.R.D. acknowledges support from the NSERC through grant RGPIN-2019-06186, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), and the Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto. C.J.L. acknowledges support under NSF grant 2022546. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys (PS1) and the PS1 public science archive have been made possible through contributions by the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, and others. Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and the Participating Institutions. SDSS acknowledges support and resources from the Center for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS website is This research has made use of: the SIMBAD database, operated at Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg, France; the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with NASA; NASA's Astrophysics Data System; and the VizieR catalog access tool, CDS, Strasbourg, France. This research has made use of data and/or software provided by the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), which is a service of the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA/GSFC and the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
City of CambridgeUNSPECIFIED
John G. Wolbach LibraryUNSPECIFIED
Cambridge RotaryUNSPECIFIED
Dunlap InstituteUNSPECIFIED
University of TorontoUNSPECIFIED
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)RGPIN-2015-05948
Canada Research Chairs ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)RGPIN-2019-06186
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)UNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)UNSPECIFIED
Participating InstitutionsUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:AGN host galaxies; Black hole physics; Radio transient sources; Time domain astronomy
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: AGN host galaxies (2017); Black hole physics (159); Radio transient sources (2008); Time domain astronomy (2109)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210406-135111077
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Official Citation:Vikram Ravi et al 2022 ApJ 925 220
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108634
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:07 Apr 2021 23:32
Last Modified:10 Feb 2022 17:16

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