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  1. Abstract

    Transient accretion events onto supermassive black holes (SMBHs), such as tidal disruption events (TDEs), Bowen Fluorescence Flares (BFFs), and active galactic nuclei (AGNs), which are accompanied by sudden increases of activity, offer a new window onto the SMBH population, accretion physics, and stellar dynamics in galaxy centers. However, such transients are rare and finding them in wide-field transient surveys is challenging. Here we present the results of a systematic real-time search for SMBH-related transients in Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) public alerts, using various search queries. We examined 345 rising events coincident with a galaxy nucleus, with no history of previous activity, of which 223 were spectroscopically classified. Of those, five (2.2%) were TDEs, one (0.5%) was a BFF, and two (0.9%) were AGN flares. Limiting the search to blue events, the fraction of TDEs nearly doubles to 4.1%, and no TDEs are missed. Limiting the search further to candidate post-starburst galaxies increases the relative number of TDEs to 16.7%, but the absolute numbers in such a search are small. The main contamination source is supernovae (95.1% of classified events), of which the majority (82.2% of supernovae) are of Type Ia. In a comparison set of 39 events with limited photometric history, the AGN contamination increases to ∼30%. Host galaxy offset is not a significant discriminant of TDEs in current ZTF data, but might be useful in higher-resolution data. Our results can be used to quantify the efficiency of various SMBH-related transient search strategies in optical surveys such as ZTF and the Legacy Survey of Space and Time.

     
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  2. Abstract

    AT 2020mot is a typical UV/optical tidal disruption event (TDE) with no radio or X-ray signatures in a quiescent host. We find ani-band excess and rebrightening along the decline of the light curve which could be due to two consecutive dust echoes from the TDE. We model our observations following van Velzen et al. and find that the near-infrared light curve can be explained by concentric rings of thin dust within ∼0.1 pc of a ∼6 × 106Msupermassive black hole (SMBH), among the smallest scales at which dust has been inferred near SMBHs. We find dust covering factors of orderfc≤ 2%, much lower than found for dusty tori of active galactic nuclei. These results highlight the potential of TDEs for uncovering the environments around black holes when including near-infrared observations in high-cadence transient studies.

     
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  3. Abstract

    We present high-cadence optical and ultraviolet (UV) observations of the Type II supernova (SN), SN 2022jox which exhibits early spectroscopic high-ionization flash features of Hi, Heii, Civ, and Nivthat disappear within the first few days after explosion. SN 2022jox was discovered by the Distance Less Than 40 Mpc survey ∼0.75 day after explosion with follow-up spectra and UV photometry obtained within minutes of discovery. The SN reached a peak brightness ofMV∼ −17.3 mag, and has an estimated56Ni mass of 0.04M, typical values for normal Type II SNe. The modeling of the early light curve and the strong flash signatures present in the optical spectra indicate interaction with circumstellar material (CSM) created from a progenitor with a mass-loss rate ofṀ103102Myr1. There may also be some indication of late-time CSM interaction in the form of an emission line blueward of Hαseen in spectra around 200 days. The mass-loss rate of SN 2022jox is much higher than the values typically associated with quiescent mass loss from red supergiants, the known progenitors of Type II SNe, but is comparable to inferred values from similar core-collapse SNe with flash features, suggesting an eruptive event or a superwind in the progenitor in the months or years before explosion.

     
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  4. Abstract

    We present the discovery of the Type II supernova SN 2023ixf in M101 and follow-up photometric and spectroscopic observations, respectively, in the first month and week of its evolution. Our discovery was made within a day of estimated first light, and the following light curve is characterized by a rapid rise (≈5 days) to a luminous peak (MV≈ − 18.2 mag) and plateau (MV≈ − 17.6 mag) extending to 30 days with a fast decline rate of ≈0.03 mag day−1. During the rising phase,UVcolor shows blueward evolution, followed by redward evolution in the plateau phase. Prominent flash features of hydrogen, helium, carbon, and nitrogen dominate the spectra up to ≈5 days after first light, with a transition to a higher ionization state in the first ≈2 days. Both theUVcolor and flash ionization states suggest a rise in the temperature, indicative of a delayed shock breakout inside dense circumstellar material (CSM). From the timescales of CSM interaction, we estimate its compact radial extent of ∼(3–7) × 1014cm. We then construct numerical light-curve models based on both continuous and eruptive mass-loss scenarios shortly before explosion. For the continuous mass-loss scenario, we infer a range of mass-loss history with 0.1–1.0Myr−1in the final 2−1 yr before explosion, with a potentially decreasing mass loss of 0.01–0.1Myr−1in ∼0.7–0.4 yr toward the explosion. For the eruptive mass-loss scenario, we favor eruptions releasing 0.3–1Mof the envelope at about a year before explosion, which result in CSM with mass and extent similar to the continuous scenario. We discuss the implications of the available multiwavelength constraints obtained thus far on the progenitor candidate and SN 2023ixf to our variable CSM models.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  5. We present a comparative study of two nearby type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), 2018xx and 2019gbx, that exploded in NGC 4767 and MCG-02-33-017 at a distance of 48 Mpc and 60 Mpc, respectively. The B -band light curve decline rate for SN 2018xx is estimated to be 1.48 ± 0.07 mag and for SN 2019gbx it is 1.37 ± 0.07 mag. Despite the similarities in photometric evolution, quasi-bolometric luminosity, and spectroscopy between these two SNe Ia, SN 2018xx has been found to be fainter by about ∼0.38 mag in the B -band and has a lower 56 Ni yield. Their host galaxies have similar metallicities at the SN location, indicating that the differences between these two SNe Ia may be associated with the higher progenitor metallicity of SN 2018xx. Further inspection of the near-maximum-light spectra has revealed that SN 2018xx has relatively strong absorption features near 4300 Å relative to SN 2019gbx. The application of the code TARDIS fitting to the above features indicates that the absorption features near 4300 Å appear to be related to not only Fe  II /Mg  II abundance but possibly to the other element abundances as well. Moreover, SN 2018xx shows a weaker carbon absorption at earlier times, which is also consistent with higher ejecta metallicity. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  6. Abstract

    The optical-ultraviolet transient AT 2021loi is located at the center of its host galaxy. Its spectral features identify it as a member of the Bowen fluorescence flare (BFF) class. The first member of this class was considered to be related to a tidal disruption event, but enhanced accretion onto an already active supermassive black hole was suggested as an alternative explanation. Having occurred in a previously known unobscured active galactic nucleus, AT 2021loi strengthens the latter interpretation. Its light curve is similar to those of previous BFFs, showing a rebrightening approximately 1 yr after the main peak (which was not explicitly identified but might be the case in all previous BFFs). An emission feature around 4680 Å, seen in the preflare spectrum, strengthens by a factor of ∼2 around the optical peak of the flare and is clearly seen as a double-peaked feature then, suggesting a blend of Niiiλ4640 with Heiiλ4686 as its origin. The appearance of Oiiiλ3133 and possible Niiiλλ4097, 4103 (blended with Hδ) during the flare further support a Bowen fluorescence classification. Here we present ZTF, ATLAS, Keck, Las Cumbres Observatory, NEOWISE-R, Swift AMI, and Very Large Array observations of AT 2021loi, making it one of the best-observed BFFs to date. It thus provides some clarity on the nature of BFFs but also further demonstrates the diversity of nuclear transients.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Type Ibn supernovae (SNe) are a rare class of stellar explosions whose progenitor systems are not yet well determined. We present and analyze observations of the Type Ibn SN 2019kbj, and model its light curve in order to constrain its progenitor and explosion parameters. SN 2019kbj shows roughly constant temperature during the first month after peak, indicating a power source (likely circumstellar material interaction) that keeps the continuum emission hot at ∼15,000 K. Indeed, we find that the radioactive decay of56Ni is disfavored as the sole power source of the bolometric light curve. A radioactive decay + circumstellar material (CSM) interaction model, on the other hand, does reproduce the bolometric emission well. The fits prefer a uniform-density CSM shell rather than CSM due to a steady mass-loss wind, similar to what is seen in other Type Ibn SNe. The uniform-density CSM shell model requires ∼0.1Mof56Ni and ∼1Mtotal ejecta mass to reproduce the light curve. SN 2019kbj differs in this manner from another Type Ibn SN with derived physical parameters, SN 2019uo, for which an order of magnitude lower56Ni mass and larger ejecta mass were derived. This points toward a possible diversity in SN Ibn progenitor systems and explosions.

     
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  8. Abstract We present the optical photometric and spectroscopic analysis of two Type Iax supernovae (SNe), 2018cni and 2020kyg. SN 2018cni is a bright Type Iax SN ( M V ,peak = −17.81 ± 0.21 mag), whereas SN 2020kyg ( M V ,peak = −14.52 ± 0.21 mag) is a faint one. We derive 56 Ni mass of 0.07 and 0.002 M ⊙ and ejecta mass of 0.48 and 0.14 M ⊙ for SNe 2018cni and 2020kyg, respectively. A combined study of the bright and faint Type Iax SNe in R / r -band reveals that the brighter objects tend to have a longer rise time. However, the correlation between the peak luminosity and decline rate shows that bright and faint Type Iax SNe exhibit distinct behavior. Comparison with standard deflagration models suggests that SN 2018cni is consistent with the deflagration of a CO white dwarf, whereas the properties of SN 2020kyg can be better explained by the deflagration of a hybrid CONe white dwarf. The spectral features of both the SNe point to the presence of similar chemical species but with different mass fractions. Our spectral modeling indicates stratification at the outer layers and mixed inner ejecta for both of the SNe. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  9. Abstract

    We present high-cadence photometric and spectroscopic observations of SN 2023axu, a classical Type II supernova with an absoluteV-band peak magnitude of –17.2 ± 0.1 mag. SN 2023axu was discovered by the Distance Less Than 40 Mpc (DLT40) survey within 1 day of the last nondetection in the nearby galaxy NGC 2283 at 13.7 Mpc. We modeled the early light curve using a recently updated shock cooling model that includes the effects of line blanketing and found the explosion epoch to be MJD 59971.48 ± 0.03 and the probable progenitor to be a red supergiant. The shock cooling model underpredicts the overall UV data, which point to a possible interaction with circumstellar material. This interpretation is further supported by spectral behavior. We see a ledge feature around 4600 Å in the very early spectra (+1.1 and +1.5 days after the explosion), which can be a sign of circumstellar interaction. The signs of circumstellar material are further bolstered by the presence of absorption features blueward of Hαand Hβat day >40, which is also generally attributed to circumstellar interaction. Our analysis shows the need for high-cadence early photometric and spectroscopic data to decipher the mass-loss history of the progenitor.

     
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  10. Abstract We present the photometry of 16 91T/99aa-like Type Ia Supernovae (SNe Ia) observed by the Las Cumbres Observatory. We also use an additional set of 21 91T/99aa-like SNe Ia and 87 normal SNe Ia from the literature for an analysis of the standardizability of the luminosity of 91T/99aa-like SNe. We find that 91T/99aa-like SNe are 0.2 mag brighter than normal SNe Ia, even when fully corrected by the light-curve shapes and colors. The weighted rms of the 91T/99aa-like SNe (with z CMB > 0.01) Hubble residuals is 0.25 ± 0.03 mag, suggesting that 91T/99aa-like SNe are also excellent relative distance indicators to ±12%. We compare the Hubble residuals with the pseudo-equivalent width (pEW) of Si ii λλ 6355 around the date of maximum brightness. We find that there is a broken linear correlation between those two measurements for our sample including both 91T/99aa-like and normal SNe Ia. As the pEW max (Si ii λλ 6355) increases, the Hubble residual increases when pEW max (Si ii λλ 6355) < 55.6 Å. However, the Hubble residual stays constant beyond this. Given that 91T/99aa-like SNe possess shallower Si ii lines than normal SNe Ia, the linear correlation at pEW max (Si ii λλ 6355) < 55.6 Å can account for the overall discrepancy of Hubble residuals derived from the two subgroups. Such a systematic effect needs to be taken into account when using SNe Ia to measure luminosity distances. 
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