The birth of a relativistic jet following the disruption of a star by a cosmological black hole

Dheeraj Pasham, Matteo Lucchini, Tanmoy Laskar, Benjamin Gompertz, Shubham Srivastav, Matt Nicholl, Stephen J. Smartt, James Miller-Jones, Kate Alexander, Rob Fender, Graham Smith, M. Fulton, Gulab Dewangan, Keith Gendreau, Eric Coughlin, Lauren Rhodes, Assaf Horesh, Sjoert van Velzen, Itai Sfaradi, Muryel GuoloNoel Castro Segura, Aysha Aamer, Joseph Anderson, Iair Arcavi, Seán Brennan, Kenneth Chambers, Panos Charalampopoulos, Ting-Wan Chen, A. Clocchiatti, Thomas de Boer, Michel Dennefeld, Elizabeth Ferrara, Lluís Galbany, Hua Gao, James Gillanders, Adelle Goodwin, Mariusz Gromadzki, M. Huber, Peter Jonker, Manasvita Joshi, Erin Kara, Thomas Killestein, Peter Kosec, Daniel Kocevski, Giorgos Leloudas, Lin (林建爭) Chien-Cheng, Raffaella Margutti, Seppo Mattila, Thomas Moore, Tomás E. Müller-Bravo, Chow-Choong Ngeow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

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
Pages (from-to)88–104
JournalNature Astronomy
Volume7
Early online date30 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2023

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