Candidate tidal disruption events from the XMM-Newton slew survey
Publication date: 08 February 2007
Authors: Esquej, P., et al.
Context. In recent years, giant amplitude X-ray flares have been observed from a handful of non-active galaxies. The most plausible scenario of these unusual phenomena is tidal disruption of a star by a quiescent supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy.
Aims. Only a small number of these type of events have been observed and confirmed to date. The discovery of more cases would allow a number of fundamental conclusions to be drawn about properties such as the frequency of tidal disruption events, the distribution of quiescent black hole masses and their influence in the context of galaxy/AGN formation and evolution among others.
Methods. Comparing the XMM-Newton Slew Survey Source Catalogue with the ROSAT PSPC All-Sky Survey five galaxies have been detected a factor of up to 88 brighter in XMM-Newton with respect to ROSAT PSPC upper limits and presenting a soft X-ray colour. X-ray luminosities of these sources derived from slew observations have been found in the range 1041-1044 erg s-1, fully consistent with the tidal disruption model. This model predicts that during the peak of the outburst, flares reach X-ray luminosities up to 1045 erg s-1, which is close to the Eddington luminosity of the black hole, and afterwards a decay of the flux on a time scale of months to years is expected. Multi-wavelength follow-up observations have been performed on these highly variable objects in order to disentangle their nature and to investigate their dynamical evolution.
Results. Here we present sources coming from the XMM-Newton Slew Survey that could fit in the paradigm of tidal disruption events. X-ray and optical observations revealed that two of these objects are in full agreement with that scenario and three other sources that, showing signs of optical activity, need further investigation within the transient galactic nuclei phenomena.