The Birth of a Relativistic Jet Following the Disruption of a Star by a Cosmological Black Hole

Dheeraj R. Pasham, Matteo Lucchini, Tanmoy Laskar, Benjamin P. Gompertz, Shubham Srivastav, Matt Nicholl, Stephen J. Smartt, James C.A. Miller-Jones, Kate D. Alexander, Rob Fender, Graham P. Smith, M. Fulton, Gulab Dewangan, Keith Gendreau, Eric R. Coughlin, Lauren Rhodes, Assaf Horesh, Sjoert van Velzen, Itai Sfaradi, Muryel GuoloNoel Castro Segura, Aysha Aamer, Joseph P. Anderson, Iair Arcavi, Seán J. Brennan, Kenneth Chambers, Panos Charalampopoulos, Ting Wan Chen, A. Clocchiatti, Thomas de Boer, Michel Dennefeld, Elizabeth Ferrara, Lluís Galbany, Hua Gao, James H. Gillanders, Adelle Goodwin, Mariusz Gromadzki, M. Huber, Peter G. Jonker, Manasvita Joshi, Erin Kara, Thomas L. Killestein, Peter Kosec, Daniel Kocevski, Giorgos Leloudas, Chien Cheng Lin, Raffaella Margutti, Seppo Mattila, Thomas Moore, Tomás Müller-Bravo, Chow Choong Ngeow, Samantha Oates, Francesca Onori, Yen Chen Pan, Miguel Perez-Torres, Priyanka Rani, Ronald Remillard, Evan J. Ridley, Steve Schulze, Xinyue Sheng, Luke Shingles, Ken W. Smith, James F. Steiner, Richard Wainscoat, Thomas Wevers, Sheng Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

A black hole can launch a powerful relativistic jet after it tidally disrupts a star. If this jet fortuitously aligns with our line of sight, the overall brightness is Doppler boosted by several orders of magnitude. Consequently, such on-axis relativistic tidal disruption events have the potential to unveil cosmological (redshift z > 1) quiescent black holes and are ideal test beds for understanding the radiative mechanisms operating in super-Eddington jets. Here we present multiwavelength (X-ray, UV, optical and radio) observations of the optically discovered transient AT 2022cmc at z = 1.193. Its unusual X-ray properties, including a peak observed luminosity of ≳1048 erg s−1, systematic variability on timescales as short as 1,000 s and overall duration lasting more than 30 days in the rest frame, are traits associated with relativistic tidal disruption events. The X-ray to radio spectral energy distributions spanning 5–50 days after discovery can be explained as synchrotron emission from a relativistic jet (radio), synchrotron self-Compton (X-rays) and thermal emission similar to that seen in low-redshift tidal disruption events (UV/optical). Our modelling implies a beamed, highly relativistic jet akin to blazars but requires extreme matter domination (that is, a high ratio of electron-to-magnetic-field energy densities in the jet) and challenges our theoretical understanding of jets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-104
Number of pages17
JournalNature Astronomy
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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