AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 119 Galaxy Evolution at High Redshift
Poster, Thursday, January 8, 2004, 9:20am-4:00pm, Hanover Hall

[Previous] | [Session 119] | [Next]

[119.02] Discovery of a Transient U-band Dropout in a Lyman Break Survey: A Tidally-Disrupted Star at z = 3.3?

D. Stern (CalTech), P.G. van Dokkum (Yale), P. Nugent (LBL), D.J. Sand (CalTech), J.S. Bloom (Harvard), R.S. Ellis (CalTech), D.A. Frail (NRAO), J.-P. Kneib, M. Sullivan (CalTech), T. Treu (UCLA)

We report the discovery of a transient source identified in the central regions of galaxy cluster Abell 267. At discovery, the r ~22 source had the colors of a ``U-band drop-out'', characteristic of star-forming galaxies and quasars at z ~3. Three months later the source had faded by more than three magnitudes. Further observations showed a continued decline in luminosity, to r > 26.4 seven months after discovery. Since the photometry argues against a normal supernova at any redshift, we suggest that this source is likely a z ~3 gravitationally-lensed flare resulting from the tidal disruption of a star by a 106 - 108 solar mass black hole. Flares produced by tidally-disrupted stars have the potential to extend studies of the accretion history of the universe and the relation between black holes and their host galaxies to quiescent galaxies and to very high redshift.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: stern@zwolfkinder.jpl.nasa.gov

[Previous] | [Session 119] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.