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PTF10iya: a short-lived, luminous flare from the nuclear region of a star-forming galaxy

Cenko, S. Bradley and Kulkarni, S. R. and Ofek, Eran O. and Kasliwal, Mansi M. and Tendulkar, Shriharsh P. (2012) PTF10iya: a short-lived, luminous flare from the nuclear region of a star-forming galaxy. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 420 (3). pp. 2684-2699. ISSN 0035-8711.

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We present the discovery and characterization of PTF10iya, a short-lived (Δt≈ 10 d, with an optical decay rate of ∼0.3 mag d^(−1)), luminous (M_(g') ≈ -21) transient source found by the Palomar Transient Factory. The ultraviolet/optical spectral energy distribution is reasonably well fitted by a blackbody with T≈ (1–2) × 10^4 K and peak bolometric luminosity LBB≈ (1–5) × 10^(44) erg s^(−1) (depending on the details of the extinction correction). A comparable amount of energy is radiated in the X-ray band that appears to result from a distinct physical process. The location of PTF10iya is consistent with the nucleus of a star-forming galaxy (z= 0.224 05 ± 0.000 06) to within 350 mas (99.7 per cent confidence radius), or a projected distance of less than 1.2 kpc. At first glance, these properties appear reminiscent of the characteristic ‘big blue bump’ seen in the near-ultraviolet spectra of many active galactic nuclei (AGNs). However, emission-line diagnostics of the host galaxy, along with a historical light curve extending back to 2007, show no evidence for AGN-like activity. We therefore consider whether the tidal disruption of a star by an otherwise quiescent supermassive black hole may account for our observations. Though with limited temporal information, PTF10iya appears broadly consistent with the predictions for the early ‘super-Eddington’ phase of a solar-type star being disrupted by a ∼10^7 M_⊙ black hole. Regardless of the precise physical origin of the accreting material, the large luminosity and short duration suggest that otherwise quiescent galaxies can transition extremely rapidly to radiate near the Eddington limit; many such outbursts may have been missed by previous surveys lacking sufficient cadence.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Cenko, S. Bradley0000-0003-1673-970X
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Ofek, Eran O.0000-0002-6786-8774
Kasliwal, Mansi M.0000-0002-5619-4938
Tendulkar, Shriharsh P.0000-0003-2548-2926
Additional Information:© 2012 The Authors. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS. Accepted 2011 November 18. Received 2011 October 16; in original form 2011 March 3. Article first published online: 18 Jan 2012. We wish to thank S.A. Wright, K. Bundy and the anonymous referee for valuable comments and discussions regarding this manuscript. Follow-up data were obtained by the Palomar Transient Factory TDF Key Project. SBC and AVF wish to acknowledge generous support from Gary and Cynthia Bengier, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, NASA/Swift grant NNX10AI21G, NASA/Fermi grant NNX1OA057G, and NSF grant AST-0908886. NRB is supported through the Einstein Fellowship Program (NASA Cooperative Agreement NNG06DO90A). JSB and his group were partially supported by NASA/Swift Guest Investigator grants NNX09AQ66G and NNX10AF93G, and a SciDAC grant from the US Department of Energy. The Weizmann Institute PTF partnership is supported in part by grants from the Israeli Science Foundation to AG. Joint work by the Weizmann and Caltech groups is supported by a grant from the Binational Science Foundation toAGand SRK, and AG acknowledges further support from a EU/FP7 MarieCurie IRG fellowship. LB is supported by the NSF under grants PHY-0551164 and AST-0707633. P60 operations are funded in part by NASA through the Swift Guest Investigator Program (grant NNG06GH61G). We acknowledge the use of public data from the Swift data archive. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and NASA. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community; we are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain.
Group:Palomar Transient Factory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gary and Cynthia BengierUNSPECIFIED
Richard and Rhoda Goldman FundUNSPECIFIED
NASA Einstein FellowshipNNG06DO90A
Department of Energy (DOE)UNSPECIFIED
Israeli Science FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Binational Science Foundation (USA-Israel)UNSPECIFIED
Marie Curie FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
W. M. Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; black hole physics; galaxies: active; galaxies: nuclei
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120326-093254516
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Cenko, S. B., Bloom, J. S., Kulkarni, S. R., Strubbe, L. E., Miller, A. A., Butler, N. R., Quimby, R. M., Gal-Yam, A., Ofek, E. O., Quataert, E., Bildsten, L., Poznanski, D., Perley, D. A., Morgan, A. N., Filippenko, A. V., Frail, D. A., Arcavi, I., Ben-Ami, S., Cucchiara, A., Fassnacht, C. D., Green, Y., Hook, I. M., Howell, D. A., Lagattuta, D. J., Law, N. M., Kasliwal, M. M., Nugent, P. E., Silverman, J. M., Sullivan, M., Tendulkar, S. P. and Yaron, O. (2012), PTF10iya: a short-lived, luminous flare from the nuclear region of a star-forming galaxy. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 420: 2684–2699. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.20240.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:29840
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:26 Mar 2012 17:11
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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