NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2012A-0181

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Proposal Information for 2012A-0181


PI: Andrew Levan, University of Warwick, A.J.Levan@warwick.ac.uk
Address: Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Gibbett Hill Road, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK

CoI: Brad Cenko, University of California, Berkeley
CoI: Nial Tanvir, University of Leicester
CoI: Joshua Bloom, University of California, Berkeley
CoI: Klaas Wiersema, University of Leicester
CoI: Daniel Perley, California Institute of Technology
CoI: Rachel Tunnicliffe, University of Warwick

Title: The late time behaviour of a relativsitic tidal disruption event

Abstract: In March 2011 we used Gemini to discover the host galaxy and optical/IR counterpart of a unique high energy transient (Levan et al. 2011 Science 333 199). It appears as a long-lived and luminous transient from the nucleus of a normal star-forming galaxy. We suggested this event may represent a relativistic variant of a tidal disruption event, where a main sequence star is shredded by a supermassive black hole (Bloom et al. Science 2011 333 199). However, other authors have suggested alternatives from extremely long GRBs to white dwarf--black hole disruptions. We propose to continue observations in the IR, to match already approved X-ray and radio observations. Using NIRI we will follow the transient to extremely faint levels, testing the behaviour in comparison to the expectations of different models. These observations will also place stringent constraints on the mass of the black hole. Finally we will obtain a late epoch of GMOS spectroscopy to search for the emergence of broad lines from high-velocity, unbound material released in the disruption. This event represents the first example of a new type of high-energy transient, has equisite data to date, and will represent the benchmark of its class for years to come.


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