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  1. ABSTRACT

    The origin of cosmic high-energy neutrinos remains largely unexplained. For high-energy neutrino alerts from IceCube, a coincidence with time-variable emission has been seen for three different types of accreting black holes: (1) a gamma-ray flare from a blazar (TXS 0506+056), (2) an optical transient following a stellar tidal disruption event (TDE; AT2019dsg), and (3) an optical outburst from an active galactic nucleus (AGN; AT2019fdr). For the latter two sources, infrared follow-up observations revealed a powerful reverberation signal due to dust heated by the flare. This discovery motivates a systematic study of neutrino emission from all supermassive black hole with similar dust echoes. Because dust reprocessing is agnostic to the origin of the outburst, our work unifies TDEs and high-amplitude flares from AGN into a population that we dub accretion flares. Besides the two known events, we uncover a third flare that is coincident with a PeV-scale neutrino (AT2019aalc). Based solely on the optical and infrared properties, we estimate a significance of 3.6σ for this association of high-energy neutrinos with three accretion flares. Our results imply that at least ∼10 per cent of the IceCube high-energy neutrino alerts could be due to accretion flares. This is surprising because the sum of the fluence of these flares is at least three orders of magnitude lower compared to the total fluence of normal AGN. It thus appears that the efficiency of high-energy neutrino production in accretion flares is increased compared to non-flaring AGN. We speculate that this can be explained by the high Eddington ratio of the flares.

     
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  2. Abstract While it is difficult to observe the first black hole seeds in the early universe, we can study intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) in local dwarf galaxies for clues about their origins. In this paper we present a sample of variability-selected active galactic nuclei (AGN) in dwarf galaxies using optical photometry from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and forward-modeled mid-IR photometry of time-resolved Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) co-added images. We found that 44 out of 25,714 dwarf galaxies had optically variable AGN candidates and 148 out of 79,879 dwarf galaxies had mid-IR variable AGN candidates, corresponding to active fractions of 0.17% ± 0.03% and 0.19% ± 0.02%, respectively. We found that spectroscopic approaches to AGN identification would have missed 81% of our ZTF IMBH candidates and 69% of our WISE IMBH candidates. Only nine candidates have been detected previously in radio, X-ray, and variability searches for dwarf galaxy AGN. The ZTF and WISE dwarf galaxy AGN with broad Balmer lines have virial masses of 10 5 M ⊙ < M BH < 10 7 M ⊙ , but for the rest of the sample, BH masses predicted from host galaxy mass range between 10 5.2 M ⊙ < M BH < 10 7.25 M ⊙ . We found that only 5 of 152 previously reported variability-selected AGN candidates from the Palomar Transient Factory in common with our parent sample were variable in ZTF. We also determined a nuclear supernova fraction of 0.05% ± 0.01% yr −1 for dwarf galaxies in ZTF. Our ZTF and WISE IMBH candidates show the promise of variability searches for the discovery of otherwise hidden low-mass AGN. 
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  3. We present photometric and spectroscopic observations of the Type IIn supernova SN 2019zrk (also known as ZTF 20aacbyec). The SN shows a > 100 day precursor, with a slow rise, followed by a rapid rise to M  ≈ −19.2 in the r and g bands. The post-peak light-curve decline is well fit with an exponential decay with a timescale of ∼39 days, but it shows prominent undulations, with an amplitude of ∼1 mag. Both the light curve and spectra are dominated by an interaction with a dense circumstellar medium (CSM), probably from previous mass ejections. The spectra evolve from a scattering-dominated Type IIn spectrum to a spectrum with strong P-Cygni absorptions. The expansion velocity is high, ∼16 000 km s −1 , even in the last spectra. The last spectrum ∼110 days after the main eruption reveals no evidence for advanced nucleosynthesis. From analysis of the spectra and light curves, we estimate the mass-loss rate to be ∼4 × 10 −2   M ⊙ yr −1 for a CSM velocity of 100 km s −1 , and a CSM mass of 1  M ⊙ . We find strong similarities for both the precursor, general light curve, and spectral evolution with SN 2009ip and similar SNe, although SN 2019zrk displays a brighter peak magnitude. Different scenarios for the nature of the 09ip-class of SNe, based on pulsational pair instability eruptions, wave heating, and mergers, are discussed. 
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  4. Abstract Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are thermonuclear explosions of degenerate white dwarf stars destabilized by mass accretion from a companion star 1 , but the nature of their progenitors remains poorly understood. A way to discriminate between progenitor systems is through radio observations; a non-degenerate companion star is expected to lose material through winds 2 or binary interaction 3 before explosion, and the supernova ejecta crashing into this nearby circumstellar material should result in radio synchrotron emission. However, despite extensive efforts, no type Ia supernova (SN Ia) has ever been detected at radio wavelengths, which suggests a clean environment and a companion star that is itself a degenerate white dwarf star 4,5 . Here we report on the study of SN 2020eyj, a SN Ia showing helium-rich circumstellar material, as demonstrated by its spectral features, infrared emission and, for the first time in a SN Ia to our knowledge, a radio counterpart. On the basis of our modelling, we conclude that the circumstellar material probably originates from a single-degenerate binary system in which a white dwarf accretes material from a helium donor star, an often proposed formation channel for SNe Ia (refs.  6,7 ). We describe how comprehensive radio follow-up of SN 2020eyj-like SNe Ia can improve the constraints on their progenitor systems. 
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  5. Abstract Tidal disruption events (TDEs) offer a unique way to study dormant black holes. While the number of observed TDEs has grown thanks to the emergence of wide-field surveys in the past few decades, questions regarding the nature of the observed optical, UV, and X-ray emission remain. We present a uniformly selected sample of 30 spectroscopically classified TDEs from the Zwicky Transient Facility Phase I survey operations with follow-up Swift UV and X-ray observations. Through our investigation into correlations between light-curve properties, we recover a shallow positive correlation between the peak bolometric luminosity and decay timescales. We introduce a new spectroscopic class of TDE, TDE-featureless, which are characterized by featureless optical spectra. The new TDE-featureless class shows larger peak bolometric luminosities, peak blackbody temperatures, and peak blackbody radii. We examine the differences between the X-ray bright and X-ray faint populations of TDEs in this sample, finding that X-ray bright TDEs show higher peak blackbody luminosities than the X-ray faint subsample. This sample of optically selected TDEs is the largest sample of TDEs from a single survey yet, and the systematic discovery, classification, and follow-up of this sample allows for robust characterization of TDE properties, an important stepping stone looking forward toward the Rubin era. 
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  6. Abstract

    Current and future optical and near-infrared wide-field surveys have the potential to find kilonovae, the optical and infrared counterparts to neutron star mergers, independently of gravitational-wave or high-energy gamma-ray burst triggers. The ability to discover fast and faint transients such as kilonovae largely depends on the area observed, the depth of those observations, the number of revisits per field in a given time frame, and the filters adopted by the survey; it also depends on the ability to perform rapid follow-up observations to confirm the nature of the transients. In this work, we assess kilonova detectability in existing simulations of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time strategy for the Vera C. Rubin Wide Fast Deep survey, with focus on comparing rolling to baseline cadences. Although currently available cadences can enable the detection of >300 kilonovae out to ∼1400 Mpc over the 10 year survey, we can expect only 3–32 kilonovae similar to GW170817 to be recognizable as fast-evolving transients. We also explore the detectability of kilonovae over the plausible parameter space, focusing on viewing angle and ejecta masses. We find that observations in redderizybands are crucial for identification of nearby (within 300 Mpc) kilonovae that could be spectroscopically classified more easily than more distant sources. Rubin’s potential for serendipitous kilonova discovery could be increased by gain of efficiency with the employment of individual 30 s exposures (as opposed to 2 × 15 s snap pairs), with the addition of red-band observations coupled with same-night observations ingorrbands, and possibly with further development of a new rolling-cadence strategy.

     
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  7. Abstract We present radio observations (1–40 GHz) for 36 classical novae, representing data from over five decades compiled from the literature, telescope archives, and our own programs. Our targets display a striking diversity in their optical parameters (e.g., spanning optical fading timescales, t 2 = 1–263 days), and we find a similar diversity in the radio light curves. Using a brightness temperature analysis, we find that radio emission from novae is a mixture of thermal and synchrotron emission, with nonthermal emission observed at earlier times. We identify high brightness temperature emission ( T B > 5 × 10 4 K) as an indication of synchrotron emission in at least nine (25%) of the novae. We find a class of synchrotron-dominated novae with mildly evolved companions, exemplified by V5589 Sgr and V392 Per, that appear to be a bridge between classical novae with dwarf companions and symbiotic binaries with giant companions. Four of the novae in our sample have two distinct radio maxima (the first dominated by synchrotron and the later by thermal emission), and in four cases the early synchrotron peak is temporally coincident with a dramatic dip in the optical light curve, hinting at a common site for particle acceleration and dust formation. We publish the light curves in a machine-readable table and encourage the use of these data by the broader community in multiwavelength studies and modeling efforts. 
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  8. ABSTRACT

    The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) performs a systematic neutrino follow-up programme, searching for optical counterparts to high-energy neutrinos with dedicated Target-of-Opportunity (ToO) observations. Since first light in March 2018, ZTF has taken prompt observations for 24 high-quality neutrino alerts from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, with a median latency of 12.2 h from initial neutrino detection. From two of these campaigns, we have already reported tidal disruption event (TDE) AT 2019dsg and likely TDE AT 2019fdr as probable counterparts, suggesting that TDEs contribute >7.8 per cent of the astrophysical neutrino flux. We here present the full results of our programme through to December 2021. No additional candidate neutrino sources were identified by our programme, allowing us to place the first constraints on the underlying optical luminosity function of astrophysical neutrino sources. Transients with optical absolutes magnitudes brighter that −21 can contribute no more than 87 per cent of the total, while transients brighter than −22 can contribute no more than 58 per cent of the total, neglecting the effect of extinction and assuming they follow the star formation rate. These are the first observational constraints on the neutrino emission of bright populations such as superluminous supernovae. None of the neutrinos were coincident with bright optical AGN flares comparable to that observed for TXS 0506+056/IC170922A, with such optical blazar flares producing no more than 26 per cent of the total neutrino flux. We highlight the outlook for electromagnetic neutrino follow-up programmes, including the expected potential for the Rubin Observatory.

     
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  9. Abstract

    Among the supernovae (SNe) that show strong interaction with a circumstellar medium (CSM), there is a rare subclass of Type Ia supernovae, SNe Ia-CSM, which show strong narrow hydrogen emission lines much like SNe IIn but on top of a diluted Type Ia spectrum. The only previous systematic study of this class identified 16 SNe Ia-CSM, eight historic and eight from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). Now using the successor survey to PTF, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), we have classified 12 additional SNe Ia-CSM through the systematic Bright Transient Survey (BTS). Consistent with previous studies, we find these SNe to have slowly evolving optical light curves with peak absolute magnitudes between −19.1 and −21, spectra having weak Hβand large Balmer decrements of ∼7. Out of the 10 SNe from our sample observed by NEOWISE, nine have 3σdetections, with some SNe showing a reduction in the red wing of Hα, indicative of newly formed dust. We do not find our SN Ia-CSM sample to have a significantly different distribution of equivalent widths of Heiλ5876 than SNe IIn as observed in Silverman et al. The hosts tend to be late-type galaxies with recent star formation. We derive a rate estimate of2921+27Gpc−3yr−1for SNe Ia-CSM, which is ∼0.02%–0.2% of the SN Ia rate. We also identify six ambiguous SNe IIn/Ia-CSM in the BTS sample and including them gives an upper limit rate of 0.07%–0.8%. This work nearly doubles the sample of well-studied Ia-CSM objects in Silverman et al., increasing the total number to 28.

     
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  10. Abstract

    We present a search for extragalactic fast blue optical transients (FBOTs) during Phase I of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). We identify 38 candidates with durations above half-maximum light 1 day <t1/2< 12 days, of which 28 have blue (gr≲ −0.2 mag) colors at peak light. Of the 38 transients (28 FBOTs), 19 (13) can be spectroscopically classified as core-collapse supernovae (SNe): 11 (8) H- or He-rich (Type II/IIb/Ib) SNe, 6 (4) interacting (Type IIn/Ibn) SNe, and 2 (1) H&He-poor (Type Ic/Ic-BL) SNe. Two FBOTs (published previously) had predominantly featureless spectra and luminous radio emission: AT2018lug (The Koala) and AT2020xnd (The Camel). Seven (five) did not have a definitive classification: AT 2020bdh showed tentative broad Hαin emission, and AT 2020bot showed unidentified broad features and was 10 kpc offset from the center of an early-type galaxy. Ten (eight) have no spectroscopic observations or redshift measurements. We present multiwavelength (radio, millimeter, and/or X-ray) observations for five FBOTs (three Type Ibn, one Type IIn/Ibn, one Type IIb). Additionally, we search radio-survey (VLA and ASKAP) data to set limits on the presence of radio emission for 24 of the transients. All X-ray and radio observations resulted in nondetections; we rule out AT2018cow-like X-ray and radio behavior for five FBOTs and more luminous emission (such as that seen in the Camel) for four additional FBOTs. We conclude that exotic transients similar to AT2018cow, the Koala, and the Camel represent a rare subset of FBOTs and use ZTF’s SN classification experiments to measure the rate to be at most 0.1% of the local core-collapse SN rate.

     
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