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    As active galactic nuclei (AGN) ‘turn on’, some stars end up embedded in accretion discs around supermassive black holes (SMBHs) on retrograde orbits. Such stars experience strong headwinds, aerodynamic drag, ablation, and orbital evolution on short time-scales. The loss of orbital angular momentum in the first ∼0.1 Myr of an AGN leads to a heavy rain of stars (‘starfall’) into the inner disc and on to the SMBH. A large AGN loss cone (θAGN, lc) can result from binary scatterings in the inner disc and yield tidal disruption events (TDEs). Signatures of starfall include optical/UV flares that rise in luminosity over time, particularly in the inner disc. If the SMBH mass is $M_{\rm SMBH} \gtrsim 10^{8}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$, flares truncate abruptly and the star is swallowed. If $M_{\rm SMBH}\lt 10^{8}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$, and if the infalling orbit lies within θAGN, lc, the flare is followed by a TDE that can be prograde or retrograde relative to the AGN inner disc. Retrograde AGN TDEs are overluminous and short-lived as in-plane ejecta collide with the inner disc and a lower AGN state follows. Prograde AGN TDEs add angular momentum to inner disc gas and so start off looking like regular TDEs butmore »are followed by an AGN high state. Searches for such flare signatures test models of AGN ‘turn on’, SMBH mass, as well as disc properties and the embedded population.

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  2. ABSTRACT The merger of two or more galaxies can enhance the inflow of material from galactic scales into the close environments of active galactic nuclei (AGNs), obscuring and feeding the supermassive black hole (SMBH). Both recent simulations and observations of AGN in mergers have confirmed that mergers are related to strong nuclear obscuration. However, it is still unclear how AGN obscuration evolves in the last phases of the merger process. We study a sample of 60 luminous and ultra-luminous IR galaxies (U/LIRGs) from the GOALS sample observed by NuSTAR. We find that the fraction of AGNs that are Compton thick (CT; $N_{\rm H}\ge 10^{24}\rm \, cm^{-2}$) peaks at $74_{-19}^{+14}{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ at a late merger stage, prior to coalescence, when the nuclei have projected separations (dsep) of 0.4–6 kpc. A similar peak is also observed in the median NH [$(1.6\pm 0.5)\times 10^{24}\rm \, cm^{-2}$]. The vast majority ($85^{+7}_{-9}{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) of the AGNs in the final merger stages (dsep ≲ 10 kpc) are heavily obscured ($N_{\rm H}\ge 10^{23}\rm \, cm^{-2}$), and the median NH of the accreting SMBHs in our sample is systematically higher than that of local hard X-ray-selected AGN, regardless of the merger stage. This implies that thesemore »objects have very obscured nuclear environments, with the $N_{\rm H}\ge 10^{23}\rm \, cm^{-2}$ gas almost completely covering the AGN in late mergers. CT AGNs tend to have systematically higher absorption-corrected X-ray luminosities than less obscured sources. This could either be due to an evolutionary effect, with more obscured sources accreting more rapidly because they have more gas available in their surroundings, or to a selection bias. The latter scenario would imply that we are still missing a large fraction of heavily obscured, lower luminosity ($L_{2-10}\lesssim 10^{43}\rm \, erg\, s^{-1}$) AGNs in U/LIRGs.« less
  3. Abstract The Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) has become a cornerstone of extragalactic astronomy. Since the last public catalog in 2015, a wealth of new imaging and spectroscopic data have been collected in the COSMOS field. This paper describes the collection, processing, and analysis of these new imaging data to produce a new reference photometric redshift catalog. Source detection and multiwavelength photometry are performed for 1.7 million sources across the 2 deg 2 of the COSMOS field, ∼966,000 of which are measured with all available broadband data using both traditional aperture photometric methods and a new profile-fitting photometric extraction tool, The Farmer , which we have developed. A detailed comparison of the two resulting photometric catalogs is presented. Photometric redshifts are computed for all sources in each catalog utilizing two independent photometric redshift codes. Finally, a comparison is made between the performance of the photometric methodologies and of the redshift codes to demonstrate an exceptional degree of self-consistency in the resulting photometric redshifts. The i < 21 sources have subpercent photometric redshift accuracy and even the faintest sources at 25 < i < 27 reach a precision of 5%. Finally, these results are discussed in the context of previous, current, andmore »future surveys in the COSMOS field. Compared to COSMOS2015, it reaches the same photometric redshift precision at almost one magnitude deeper. Both photometric catalogs and their photometric redshift solutions and physical parameters will be made available through the usual astronomical archive systems (ESO Phase 3, IPAC-IRSA, and CDS).« less
  4. We report the time-resolved spectral analysis of a bright near-infrared and moderate X-ray flare of Sgr A ⋆ . We obtained light curves in the M , K , and H bands in the mid- and near-infrared and in the 2 − 8 keV and 2 − 70 keV bands in the X-ray. The observed spectral slope in the near-infrared band is νL ν  ∝  ν 0.5 ± 0.2 ; the spectral slope observed in the X-ray band is νL ν  ∝  ν −0.7 ± 0.5 . Using a fast numerical implementation of a synchrotron sphere with a constant radius, magnetic field, and electron density (i.e., a one-zone model), we tested various synchrotron and synchrotron self-Compton scenarios. The observed near-infrared brightness and X-ray faintness, together with the observed spectral slopes, pose challenges for all models explored. We rule out a scenario in which the near-infrared emission is synchrotron emission and the X-ray emission is synchrotron self-Compton. Two realizations of the one-zone model can explain the observed flare and its temporal correlation: one-zone model in which the near-infrared and X-ray luminosity are produced by synchrotron self-Compton and a model in which the luminosity stems from a cooled synchrotron spectrum. Both models can describe the mean spectral energy distribution (SED)more »and temporal evolution similarly well. In order to describe the mean SED, both models require specific values of the maximum Lorentz factor γ max , which differ by roughly two orders of magnitude. The synchrotron self-Compton model suggests that electrons are accelerated to γ max  ∼ 500, while cooled synchrotron model requires acceleration up to γ max  ∼ 5 × 10 4 . The synchrotron self-Compton scenario requires electron densities of 10 10 cm −3 that are much larger than typical ambient densities in the accretion flow. Furthermore, it requires a variation of the particle density that is inconsistent with the average mass-flow rate inferred from polarization measurements and can therefore only be realized in an extraordinary accretion event. In contrast, assuming a source size of 1  R S , the cooled synchrotron scenario can be realized with densities and magnetic fields comparable with the ambient accretion flow. For both models, the temporal evolution is regulated through the maximum acceleration factor γ max , implying that sustained particle acceleration is required to explain at least a part of the temporal evolution of the flare.« less