iPTF16fnl: A Faint and Fast Tidal Disruption Event in an E+A Galaxy

July 2017 • 2017ApJ...844...46B

Authors • Blagorodnova, N. • Gezari, S. • Hung, T. • Kulkarni, S. R. • Cenko, S. B. • Pasham, D. R. • Yan, L. • Arcavi, I. • Ben-Ami, S. • Bue, B. D. • Cantwell, T. • Cao, Y. • Castro-Tirado, A. J. • Fender, R. • Fremling, C. • Gal-Yam, A. • Ho, A. Y. Q. • Horesh, A. • Hosseinzadeh, G. • Kasliwal, M. M. • Kong, A. K. H. • Laher, R. R. • Leloudas, G. • Lunnan, R. • Masci, F. J. • Mooley, K. • Neill, J. D. • Nugent, P. • Powell, M. • Valeev, A. F. • Vreeswijk, P. M. • Walters, R. • Wozniak, P.

Abstract • We present ground-based and Swift observations of iPTF16fnl, a likely tidal disruption event (TDE) discovered by the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) survey at 66.6 Mpc. The light curve of the object peaked at an absolute mag {M}g=-17.2. The maximum bolometric luminosity (from optical and UV) was {L}p≃ (1.0+/- 0.15)× {10}43 erg s-1, an order of magnitude fainter than any other optical TDE discovered so far. The luminosity in the first 60 days is consistent with an exponential decay, with L\propto {e}-(t-{t0)/τ }, where t0 = 57631.0 (MJD) and τ ≃ 15 days. The X-ray shows a marginal detection at {L}X={2.4}-1.11.9× {10}39 erg s-1 (Swift X-ray Telescope). No radio counterpart was detected down to 3σ, providing upper limits for monochromatic radio luminosities of {ν L}ν < 2.3× {10}36 erg s-1 and {ν L}ν < 1.7× {10}37 erg s-1 (Very Large Array, 6.1 and 22 GHz). The blackbody temperature, obtained from combined Swift UV and optical photometry, shows a constant value of 19,000 K. The transient spectrum at peak is characterized by broad He II and Hα emission lines, with FWHMs of about 14,000 km s-1 and 10,000 km s-1, respectively. He I lines are also detected at λλ 5875 and 6678. The spectrum of the host is dominated by strong Balmer absorption lines, which are consistent with a post-starburst (E+A) galaxy with an age of ∼650 Myr and solar metallicity. The characteristics of iPTF16fnl make it an outlier on both luminosity and decay timescales, as compared to other optically selected TDEs. The discovery of such a faint optical event suggests a higher rate of tidal disruptions, as low-luminosity events may have gone unnoticed in previous searches.


IPAC Authors

Frank Masci

Senior Scientist