A Possible Relativistic Jetted Outburst from a Massive Black Hole Fed by a Tidally Disrupted Star

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  16 Jun 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207150


While gas accretion onto some massive black holes (MBHs) at the centers of galaxies actively powers luminous emission, the vast majority of MBHs are considered dormant. Occasionally, a star passing too near a MBH is torn apart by gravitational forces, leading to a bright tidal disruption flare (TDF). While the high-energy transient Sw 1644+57 initially displayed none of the theoretically anticipated (nor previously observed) TDF characteristics, we show that the observations suggest a sudden accretion event onto a central MBH of mass ∼106 to 107 solar masses. There is evidence for a mildly relativistic outflow, jet collimation, and a spectrum characterized by synchrotron and inverse Compton processes; this leads to a natural analogy of Sw 1644+57 with a smaller-scale blazar.

Related Content