The tidal disruption event AT 2018hyz – I. Double-peaked emission lines and a flat Balmer decrement
ABSTRACT We present results from spectroscopic observations of AT 2018hyz, a transient discovered by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernova survey at an absolute magnitude of MV ∼ −20.2 mag, in the nucleus of a quiescent galaxy with strong Balmer absorption lines. AT 2018hyz shows a blue spectral continuum and broad emission lines, consistent with previous TDE candidates. High cadence follow-up spectra show broad Balmer lines and He i in early spectra, with He ii making an appearance after ∼70–100 d. The Balmer lines evolve from a smooth broad profile, through a boxy, asymmetric double-peaked phase consistent with accretion disc emission, and back to smooth at late times. The Balmer lines are unlike typical active galactic nucleus in that they show a flat Balmer decrement (Hα/Hβ ∼ 1.5), suggesting the lines are collisionally excited rather than being produced via photoionization. The flat Balmer decrement together with the complex profiles suggests that the emission lines originate in a disc chromosphere, analogous to those seen in cataclysmic variables. The low optical depth of material due to a possible partial disruption may be what allows us to observe these double-peaked, collisionally excited lines. The late appearance of He ii may be due to an expanding photosphere or outflow, or more »
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10291371
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
498
Issue:
3
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
4119 to 4133
ISSN:
0035-8711
4. ABSTRACT We present the results of a multiwavelength follow-up campaign for the luminous nuclear transient Gaia16aax, which was first identified in 2016 January. The transient is spatially consistent with the nucleus of an active galaxy at z = 0.25, hosting a black hole of mass ${\sim }6\times 10^8\, \mathrm{M}_\odot$. The nucleus brightened by more than 1 mag in the Gaia G band over a time-scale of less than 1 yr, before fading back to its pre-outburst state over the following 3 yr. The optical spectra of the source show broad Balmer lines similar to the ones present in a pre-outburst spectrum. During the outburst, the H α and H β emission lines develop a secondary peak. We also report on the discovery of two transients with similar light-curve evolution and spectra: Gaia16aka and Gaia16ajq. We consider possible scenarios to explain the observed outbursts. We exclude that the transient event could be caused by a microlensing event, variable dust absorption or a tidal encounter between a neutron star and a stellar mass black hole in the accretion disc. We consider variability in the accretion flow in the inner part of the disc, or a tidal disruption event of a star ${\ge } 1 \, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$ bymore »