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Two peculiar fast transients in a strongly lensed host galaxy

Rodney, S. A. and Balestra, I. and Bradač, M. and Brammer, G. and Broadhurst, T. and Caminha, G. B. and Chirivì, G. and Diego, J. M. and Filippenko, A. V. and Foley, R. J. and Graur, O. and Grillo, C. and Hemmati, S. and Hjorth, J. and Hoag, A. and Jauzac, M. and Jha, S. W. and Kawamata, R. and Kelly, P. L. and McCully, C. and Mobasher, B. and Molino, A. and Oguri, M. and Richards, J. and Riess, A. G. and Rosati, P. and Schmidt, K. B. and Selsing, J. and Sharon, K. and Strolger, L.-G. and Suyu, S. H. and Treu, T. and Weiner, B. J. and Williams, L. L. R. and Zitrin, A. (2018) Two peculiar fast transients in a strongly lensed host galaxy. Nature Astronomy, 2 (4). pp. 324-333. ISSN 2397-3366.

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A massive galaxy cluster can serve as a magnifying glass for distant stellar populations, as strong gravitational lensing magnifies background galaxies and exposes details that are otherwise undetectable. In time-domain astronomy, imaging programmes with a short cadence are able to detect rapidly evolving transients, previously unseen by surveys designed for slowly evolving supernovae. Here, we describe two unusual transient events discovered in a Hubble Space Telescope programme that combined these techniques with high-cadence imaging on a field with a strong-lensing galaxy cluster. These transients were faster and fainter than any supernovae, but substantially more luminous than a classical nova. We find that they can be explained as separate eruptions of a luminous blue variable star or a recurrent nova, or as an unrelated pair of stellar microlensing events. To distinguish between these hypotheses will require clarification of the cluster lens models, along with more high-cadence imaging of the field that could detect related transient episodes. This discovery suggests that the intersection of strong lensing with high-cadence transient surveys may be a fruitful path for future astrophysical transient studies.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper ReadCube access
Rodney, S. A.0000-0003-1947-687X
Caminha, G. B.0000-0001-6052-3274
Diego, J. M.0000-0001-9065-3926
Filippenko, A. V.0000-0003-3460-0103
Hemmati, S.0000-0003-2226-5395
Hjorth, J.0000-0002-4571-2306
Hoag, A.0000-0001-8989-2567
Jha, S. W.0000-0001-8738-6011
Kelly, P. L.0000-0003-3142-997X
McCully, C.0000-0001-5807-7893
Treu, T.0000-0002-8460-0390
Zitrin, A.0000-0002-0350-4488
Additional Information:© 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. The authors thank M. Livio and L. Chomiuk for discussion of this paper, as well as S. Murray and the late N. Gehrels for assistance with the Chandra and Swift data, respectively. Some of the data in this paper were obtained from the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). Support for MAST for non-HST data is provided by the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Office of Space Science via grant NNX09AF08G, and by other grants and contracts. This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED), which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with NASA. Financial support for this work was provided to S.A.R., O.G. and L.-G.S. by NASA through grant HST-GO-13386 from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which is operated by Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. G.B.C. and P.R. acknowledge financial support from PRIN-INAF 2014 J.M.D. acknowledges support of projects AYA2015-64508-P (MINECO/FEDER, UE) and AYA2012-39475-C02-01 and the consolider project CSD2010-00064 funded by the Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad. A.V.F. and P.L.K. are grateful for financial assistance from the Christopher R. Redlich Fund, the TABASGO Foundation and NASA/STScI grants GO-14208, GO-14528, GO-14872 and GO-14922; A.V.F. is also grateful to the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science (U.C. Berkeley). The work of A.V.F. was conducted in part at the Aspen Center for Physics, which is supported by NSF grant PHY-1607611. R.J.F. and the UCSC group are supported in part by NSF grant AST-1518052 and from fellowships to R.J.F. from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. C.G. acknowledges support by the VILLUM FONDEN Young Investigator Programme through grant 10123. J.H. was supported by a VILLUM FONDEN Investigator grant (project number 16599). M.J. was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (grant ST/L00075X/1) and used the DiRAC Data Centric system at Durham University, operated by the Institute for Computational Cosmology on behalf of the STFC DiRAC HPC Facility ( M.J. was funded by BIS National E-infrastructure capital grant ST/K00042X/1, STFC capital grant ST/H008519/1, STFC DiRAC Operations grant ST/K003267/1 and Durham University. DiRAC is part of the National E-Infrastructure. R.K. was supported by Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Research Fellow (16J01302). A.M. acknowledges the financial support of the Brazilian funding agency FAPESP (Postdoc fellowship, process 2014/11806-9). M.O. acknowledges support in part by World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI Initiative), MEXT, Japan, and JSPS KAKENHI grants 26800093 and 15H05892. J.R. acknowledges support from the ERC starting grant 336736-CALENDS. G.C. and S.H.S. thank the Max Planck Society for support through the Max Planck Research Group of S.H.S. The GLASS team and T.T. were funded by NASA through NASA/STScI grant GO-13459. L.L.R.W. thanks the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute at the University of Minnesota for providing resources and support. Data availability: The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. All HST data utilized for this work are available through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). Author Contributions: S.A.R. designed the observations, processed the HST data, organized the analysis and wrote the manuscript. M.B., T.B., G.B.C., G.C., J.M.D., A.H., M.J., R.K., M.O., J.R., K.S., S.H.S., L.L.R.W. and A.Z. contributed to the lensing analysis with construction and/or interpretation of a cluster lens model. I.B., G.B., G.B.C., C.G., S.H., B.M., A.M., P.R., K.B.S., J.S. and B.J.W. collected, processed and/or analysed data on the host galaxy and other galaxies in the cluster field. R.J.F., S.W.J., P.L.K., C.M., O.G., J.H., A.G.R. and L.-G.S. contributed to the evaluation of models of astrophysical transients. A.V.F. and T.T. assisted with the observational programme design and editing of the manuscript. 1The authors declare no competing interests.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASANAS 5-26555
Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF)2014
Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (MINECO)AYA2015-64508-P
Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER)UNSPECIFIED
Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (MINECO)CSD2010-00064
Christopher R. Redlich FundUNSPECIFIED
Miller Institute for Basic Research in ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/L00075X/1
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/K00042X/1
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/H008519/1
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/K003267/1
Durham UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)16J01302
Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo (FAPESP)2014/11806-9
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)UNSPECIFIED
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)26800093
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)15H05892
European Research Council (ERC)336736-CALENDS
Max Planck SocietyUNSPECIFIED
Minnesota Supercomputing InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180425-165415725
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:86051
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:26 Apr 2018 20:47
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

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