A luminous X-ray outburst from an intermediate-mass black hole in an off-centre star cluster

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dc.contributor.author Lin, Dacheng
dc.contributor.author Strader, Jay
dc.contributor.author Carrasco, Eleazar R.
dc.contributor.author Page, Dany
dc.contributor.author Romanowsky, Aaron J.
dc.contributor.author Homan, Jeroen
dc.contributor.author Irwin, Jimmy A.
dc.contributor.author Remillard, Ronald A.
dc.contributor.author Godet, Olivier
dc.contributor.author Webb, Natalie A.
dc.contributor.author Baumgardt, Holger
dc.contributor.author Wijnands, Rudy
dc.contributor.author Barret, Didier
dc.contributor.author Duc, Pierre-Alain
dc.contributor.author Brodie, Jean P.
dc.contributor.author Gwyn, Stephen D. J.
dc.date.accessioned 2018-12-05T21:33:43Z
dc.date.available 2018-12-05T21:33:43Z
dc.date.issued 2018-06-14
dc.identifier.citation Lin, D. et al. (2018): A luminous X-ray outburst from an intermediate-mass black hole in an off-centre star cluster. Nature Astronomy, 2 (8). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-018-0493-1 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://ir.ua.edu/handle/123456789/5152
dc.description.abstract A unique signature for the presence of massive black holes in very dense stellar regions is occasional giant-amplitude outbursts of multi-wavelength radiation from tidal disruption and subsequent accretion of stars that make a close approach to the black holes1. Previous strong tidal disruption event (TDE) candidates were all associated with the centres of largely isolated galaxies2,3,4,5,6. Here, we report the discovery of a luminous X-ray outburst from a massive star cluster at a projected distance of 12.5 kpc from the centre of a large lenticular galaxy. The luminosity peaked at ~1043 erg s−1 and decayed systematically over 10 years, approximately following a trend that supports the identification of the event as a TDE. The X-ray spectra were all very soft, with emission confined to be ≲3.0 keV, and could be described with a standard thermal disk. The disk cooled significantly as the luminosity decreased—a key thermal-state signature often observed in accreting stellar-mass black holes. This thermal-state signature, coupled with very high luminosities, ultrasoft X-ray spectra and the characteristic power-law evolution of the light curve, provides strong evidence that the source contains an intermediate-mass black hole with a mass tens of thousand times that of the solar mass. This event demonstrates that one of the most effective means of detecting intermediate-mass black holes is through X-ray flares from TDEs in star clusters. en_US
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en_US
dc.subject Galaxies and clusters en_US
dc.subject High-energy astrophysics en_US
dc.title A luminous X-ray outburst from an intermediate-mass black hole in an off-centre star cluster en_US
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