Gas accretion onto some massive black holes (MBHs) at the centers of galaxies actively powers luminous emission, but most MBHs are considered dormant. Occasionally, a star passing too near an MBH is torn apart by gravitational forces, leading to a bright tidal disruption flare (TDF). Although the high-energy transient Sw 1644+57 initially displayed none of the theoretically anticipated (nor previously observed) TDF characteristics, we show that observations suggest a sudden accretion event onto a central MBH of mass about 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 to a temporary smaller-scale blazar.
- Pub Date:
- July 2011
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
- Submitted, 32 pages including supplemental online material