AT 2018lqh and the Nature of the Emerging Population of Day-scale Duration Optical Transients

December 2021 • 2021ApJ...922..247O

Authors • Ofek, E. O. • Adams, S. M. • Waxman, E. • Sharon, A. • Kushnir, D. • Horesh, A. • Ho, A. • Kasliwal, M. M. • Yaron, O. • Gal-Yam, A. • Kulkarni, S. R. • Bellm, E. • Masci, F. • Shupe, D. • Dekany, R. • Graham, M. • Riddle, R. • Duev, D. • Andreoni, I. • Mahabal, A. • Drake, A.

Abstract • We report on the discovery of AT 2018lqh (ZTF 18abfzgpl)-a rapidly evolving extragalactic transient in a star-forming host at 242 Mpc. The transient g-band light curve's duration above a half-maximum light is about 2.1 days, where 0.4/1.7 days are spent on the rise/decay, respectively. The estimated bolometric light curve of this object peaked at about 7 × 1042erg s-1-roughly 7 times brighter than the neutron star (NS)-NS merger event AT 2017gfo. We show that this event can be explained by an explosion with a fast (v ~ 0.08 c) low-mass (≈0.07 M ) ejecta, composed mostly of radioactive elements. For example, ejecta dominated by 56Ni with a timescale of t 0 ≅ 1.6 days for the ejecta to become optically thin for γ-rays fits the data well. Such a scenario requires burning at densities that are typically found in the envelopes of neutron stars or the cores of white dwarfs. A combination of circumstellar material (CSM) interaction power at early times and shock cooling at late times is consistent with the photometric observations, but the observed spectrum of the event may pose some challenges for this scenario. We argue that the observations are not consistent with a shock breakout from a stellar envelope, while a model involving a low-mass ejecta ramming into low-mass CSM cannot explain both the early- and late-time observations.


IPAC Authors

Frank Masci

Senior Scientist

Dave Shupe

Senior Scientist