Tidal Disruption Event Hosts Are Green and Centrally Concentrated: Signatures of a Post-merger System

February 2021 • 2021ApJ...908L..20H

Authors • Hammerstein, Erica • Gezari, Suvi • van Velzen, Sjoert • Cenko, S. Bradley • Roth, Nathaniel • Ward, Charlotte • Frederick, Sara • Hung, Tiara • Graham, Matthew • Foley, Ryan J. • Bellm, Eric C. • Cannella, Christopher • Drake, Andrew J. • Kupfer, Thomas • Laher, Russ R. • Mahabal, Ashish A. • Masci, Frank J. • Riddle, Reed • Rojas-Bravo, César • Smith, Roger

Abstract • We study the properties of the galaxies hosting the first 19 tidal disruption events (TDEs) detected with the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) within the context of a carefully constructed, representative host galaxy sample. We find that the ZTF sample of TDE hosts is dominated by compact "green valley" galaxies. After we restrict the comparison sample to galaxies with a similar concentration, as measured by the Sérsic index, we find this green valley overrepresentation is even larger. That is, concentrated red sequence galaxies are not producing TDEs at elevated levels. We present host galaxy spectra that show that E + A galaxies are overrepresented in the ZTF sample by a factor of ≈22, which is lower than previous TDE host galaxy studies have found. We find that this overrepresentation can be fully accounted for when taking into account the masses, colors, and Sérsic indices of the ZTF TDE hosts. The combination of both green colors and high Sérsic index of the typical TDE host galaxy could be explained if the TDE rate is temporarily enhanced following a merger that leads to a higher central concentration of stars.


IPAC Authors

Frank Masci

Senior Scientist