Relativistic jet activity from the tidal disruption of a star by a massive black hole.
ABSTRACT Supermassive black holes have powerful gravitational fields with strong gradients that can destroy stars that get too close, producing a bright flare in ultraviolet and X-ray spectral regions from stellar debris that forms an accretion disk around the black hole. The aftermath of this process may have been seen several times over the past two decades in the form of sparsely sampled, slowly fading emission from distant galaxies, but the onset of the stellar disruption event has not hitherto been observed. Here we report observations of a bright X-ray flare from the extragalactic transient Swift J164449.3+573451. This source increased in brightness in the X-ray band by a factor of at least 10,000 since 1990 and by a factor of at least 100 since early 2010. We conclude that we have captured the onset of relativistic jet activity from a supermassive black hole. A companion paper comes to similar conclusions on the basis of radio observations. This event is probably due to the tidal disruption of a star falling into a supermassive black hole, but the detailed behaviour differs from current theoretical models of such events.
- SourceAvailable from: Jean-Pierre Luminet[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Aims: We investigate the stellar pancake mechanism during which a solar-type star is tidally flattened within its orbital plane passing close to a 10^6 solar masses black hole. We simulate the relativistic orthogonal compression process and follow the associated shock waves formation. Methods: We consider a one-dimensional hydrodynamical stellar model moving in the relativistic gravitational field of a non-rotating black hole. The model is numerically solved using a Godunov-type shock-capturing source-splitting method in order to correctly reproduce the shock waves profiles. Results: Simulations confirm that the space-time curvature can induce several successive orthogonal compressions of the star which give rise to several strong shock waves. The shock waves finally escape from the star and repeatedly heat up the stellar surface to high energy values. Such a shock-heating could interestingly provide a direct observational signature of strongly disruptive star - black hole encounters through the emission of hard X or soft gamma-ray bursts. Timescales and energies of such a process are consistent with some observed events such as GRB 970815. Comment: 8 pages, 11 figures, submitted to Astron. AstrophysAstronomy and Astrophysics 10/2009; · 5.08 Impact Factor
Article: The Center of the Galaxy[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Coded in the radio, infrared, and x-ray emissions from the invisible ; nucleus of the Galaxy is mounting evidence that it is periodically the scene of ; titanic explosions. (WDM);Leaflet of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 01/1974; 5:249.
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ABSTRACT: In recent years, giant amplitude X-ray flares have been observed from a handful of non-active galaxies. The most plausible scenario of these unusual phenomena is tidal disruption of a star by a quiescent supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. Comparing the XMM-Newton Slew Survey Source Catalogue with the ROSAT PSPC All-Sky Survey five galaxies have been detected a factor of up to 88 brighter in XMM-Newton with respect to ROSAT PSPC upper limits and presenting a soft X-ray colour. X-ray luminosities of these sources derived from slew observations have been found in the range 10^41-10^44 erg s^-1, fully consistent with the tidal disruption model. This model predicts that during the peak of the outburst, flares reach X-ray luminosities up to 10^45 erg s^-1, which is close to the Eddington luminosity of the black hole, and afterwards a decay of the flux on a time scale of months to years is expected. Multi-wavelength follow-up observations have been performed on these highly variable objects in order to disentangle their nature and to investigate their dynamical evolution. Here we present sources coming from the XMM-Newton Slew Survey that could fit in the paradigm of tidal disruption events. X-ray and optical observations revealed that two of these objects are in full agreement with that scenario and three other sources that, showing signs of optical activity, need further investigation within the transient galactic nuclei phenomena. Comment: 4 pages, 4 figures, A&A accepted12/2006;