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Title: A Luminous Dust-obscured Tidal Disruption Event Candidate in a Star-forming Galaxy at 42 Mpc

While the vast majority of tidal disruption events (TDEs) have been identified by wide-field sky surveys in the optical and X-ray bands, recent studies indicate that a considerable fraction of TDEs may be dust obscured and thus preferentially detected in the infrared (IR) wave bands. In this Letter, we present the discovery of a luminous mid-IR nuclear flare (termed WTP14adbjsh), identified in a systematic transient search of archival images from the NEOWISE mid-IR survey. The source reached a peak luminosity ofL≃ 1043erg s−1at 4.6μm in 2015 before fading in the IR with a TDE-likeFt−5/3decline, radiating a total of more than 3 × 1051erg in the last 7 yr. The transient event took place in the nearby galaxy NGC 7392, at a distance of around 42 Mpc; yet, no optical or X-ray flare is detected. We interpret the transient as the nearest TDE candidate detected in the last decade, which was missed at other wavelengths due to dust obscuration, hinting at the existence of TDEs that have been historically overlooked. Unlike most previously detected TDEs, the transient was discovered in a star-forming galaxy, corroborating earlier suggestions that dust obscuration suppresses significantly the detection of TDEs in these environments. Our results demonstrate that the study of IR-detected TDEs is critical in order to obtain a complete understanding of the physics of TDEs and to conclude whether TDEs occur preferentially in a particular class of galaxies.

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Publisher / Repository:
The Astrophysical Journal Letters
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Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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