A very luminous jet from the disruption of a star by a massive black hole

December 2022 • 2022Natur.612..430A

Authors • Andreoni, Igor • Coughlin, Michael W. • Perley, Daniel A. • Yao, Yuhan • Lu, Wenbin • Cenko, S. Bradley • Kumar, Harsh • Anand, Shreya • Ho, Anna Y. Q. • Kasliwal, Mansi M. • de Ugarte Postigo, Antonio • Sagués-Carracedo, Ana • Schulze, Steve • Kann, D. Alexander • Kulkarni, S. R. • Sollerman, Jesper • Tanvir, Nial • Rest, Armin • Izzo, Luca • Somalwar, Jean J. • Kaplan, David L. • Ahumada, Tomás • Anupama, G. C. • Auchettl, Katie • Barway, Sudhanshu • Bellm, Eric C. • Bhalerao, Varun • Bloom, Joshua S. • Bremer, Michael • Bulla, Mattia • Burns, Eric • Campana, Sergio • Chandra, Poonam • Charalampopoulos, Panos • Cooke, Jeff • D'Elia, Valerio • Das, Kaustav Kashyap • Dobie, Dougal • Agüí Fernández, José Feliciano • Freeburn, James • Fremling, Cristoffer • Gezari, Suvi • Goode, Simon • Graham, Matthew J. • Hammerstein, Erica • Karambelkar, Viraj R. • Kilpatrick, Charles D. • Kool, Erik C. • Krips, Melanie • Laher, Russ R. • Leloudas, Giorgos • Levan, Andrew • Lundquist, Michael J. • Mahabal, Ashish A. • Medford, Michael S. • Miller, M. Coleman • Möller, Anais • Mooley, Kunal P. • Nayana, A. J. • Nir, Guy • Pang, Peter T. H. • Paraskeva, Emmy • Perley, Richard A. • Petitpas, Glen • Pursiainen, Miika • Ravi, Vikram • Ridden-Harper, Ryan • Riddle, Reed • Rigault, Mickael • Rodriguez, Antonio C. • Rusholme, Ben • Sharma, Yashvi • Smith, I. A. • Stein, Robert D. • Thöne, Christina • Tohuvavohu, Aaron • Valdes, Frank • van Roestel, Jan • Vergani, Susanna D. • Wang, Qinan • Zhang, Jielai

Abstract • Tidal disruption events (TDEs) are bursts of electromagnetic energy that are released when supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies violently disrupt a star that passes too close1. TDEs provide a window through which to study accretion onto supermassive black holes; in some rare cases, this accretion leads to launching of a relativistic jet2-9, but the necessary conditions are not fully understood. The best-studied jetted TDE so far is Swift J1644+57, which was discovered in γ-rays, but was too obscured by dust to be seen at optical wavelengths. Here we report the optical detection of AT2022cmc, a rapidly fading source at cosmological distance (redshift z = 1.19325) the unique light curve of which transitioned into a luminous plateau within days. Observations of a bright counterpart at other wavelengths, including X-ray, submillimetre and radio, supports the interpretation of AT2022cmc as a jetted TDE containing a synchrotron `afterglow', probably launched by a supermassive black hole with spin greater than approximately 0.3. Using four years of Zwicky Transient Facility10 survey data, we calculate a rate of 0.0 2−0.01+0.04 Gpc−3 yr−1 for on-axis jetted TDEs on the basis of the luminous, fast-fading red component, thus providing a measurement complementary to the rates derived from X-ray and radio observations11. Correcting for the beaming angle effects, this rate confirms that approximately 1 per cent of TDEs have relativistic jets. Optical surveys can use AT2022cmc as a prototype to unveil a population of jetted TDEs.


IPAC Authors

Ben Rusholme

Chief Engineer