May 2020 • 2020ApJ...894L...1L
Abstract • Binary black hole (BH) central engine description for the unique blazar OJ 287 predicted that the next secondary BH impact-induced bremsstrahlung flare should peak on 2019 July 31. This prediction was based on detailed general relativistic modeling of the secondary BH trajectory around the primary BH and its accretion disk. The expected flare was termed the Eddington flare to commemorate the centennial celebrations of now-famous solar eclipse observations to test general relativity by Sir Arthur Eddington. We analyze the multi-epoch Spitzer observations of the expected flare between 2019 July 31 and 2019 September 6, as well as baseline observations during 2019 February-March. Observed Spitzer flux density variations during the predicted outburst time display a strong similarity with the observed optical pericenter flare from OJ 287 during 2007 September. The predicted flare appears comparable to the 2007 flare after subtracting the expected higher base-level Spitzer flux densities at 3.55 and 4.49 μm compared to the optical R-band. Comparing the 2019 and 2007 outburst lightcurves and the previously calculated predictions, we find that the Eddington flare arrived within 4 hr of the predicted time. Our Spitzer observations are well consistent with the presence of a nano-Hertz gravitational-wave emitting spinning massive binary BH that inspirals along a general relativistic eccentric orbit in OJ 287. These multi-epoch Spitzer observations provide a parametric constraint on the celebrated BH no-hair theorem.