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The Superluminous Transient ASASSN-15lh as a Tidal Disruption Event from a Kerr Black Hole

Leloudas, G and Fraser, M and Stone, NC and Velzen, SV and Jonker, PG and Arcavi, I and Fremling, C and Maund, JR and Smartt, SJ and Kruhler, T and Miller-Jones, JCA and Vreeswijk, PM and Gal-Yam, A and Mazzali, PA and Cia, AD and Howell, DA and Inserra, C and Patat, F and Postigo, ADU and Yaron, O and Ashall, C and Bar, I and Campbell, H and Chen, T-W and Childress, M and Elias-Rosa, N and Harmanen, J and Hosseinzadeh, G and Johansson, J and Kangas, T and Kankare, E and Kim, S and Kuncarayakti, H and Lyman, J and Magee, MR and Maguire, K and Malesani, D and Mattila, S and McCully, CV and Nicholl, M and Prentice, SJ and Romero-Canizales, C and Schulze, S and Smith, KW and Sollerman, J and Sullivan, M and Tucker, BE and Valenti, S and Wheeler, JC and Young, DR (2016) The Superluminous Transient ASASSN-15lh as a Tidal Disruption Event from a Kerr Black Hole. Nature Astronomy, 1. ISSN 2397-3366

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Abstract

When a star passes within the tidal radius of a supermassive black hole, it will be torn apart. For a star with the mass of the Sun ($M_\odot$) and a non-spinning black hole with a mass $<10^8 M_\odot$, the tidal radius lies outside the black hole event horizon and the disruption results in a luminous flare. Here we report observations over a period of 10 months of a transient, hitherto interpreted as a superluminous supernova. Our data show that the transient rebrightened substantially in the ultraviolet and that the spectrum went through three different spectroscopic phases without ever becoming nebular. Our observations are more consistent with a tidal disruption event than a superluminous supernova because of the temperature evolution, the presence of highly ionised CNO gas in the line of sight and our improved localisation of the transient in the nucleus of a passive galaxy, where the presence of massive stars is highly unlikely. While the supermassive black hole has a mass $> 10^8 M_\odot$, a star with the same mass as the Sun could be disrupted outside the event horizon if the black hole were spinning rapidly. The rapid spin and high black hole mass can explain the high luminosity of this event.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: astro-ph.HE; astro-ph.HE; astro-ph.GA; astro-ph.SR
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2017 11:04
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2017 23:50
DOI or Identification number: 10.1038/s41550-016-0002
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5165

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