Volume 610, February 2018
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||13 February 2018|
1 Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Gießenbachstraße, 85748 Garching, Germany
2 School of Physics, O’Brien Centre for Science North, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
3 Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK
4 Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 7610001, Israel
5 Dark Cosmology Centre, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
6 Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
7 Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
8 Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, 19 JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK
9 Kavli Institute for Cosmology, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, CB3 0HA, UK
10 SRON, Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands
11 Department of Astrophysics/IMAPP, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands
12 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC), Glorieta de la Astronomía s/n, 18008 Granada, Spain
13 Instituto de Astrofísica, Facultad de Física, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Vicuña Mackenna 4860, 7820436 Macul, Santiago, Chile
14 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
15 Finnish Centre for Astronomy with ESO (FINCA), University of Turku, Väisäläntie 20, 21500 Piikkiö, Finland
16 Tuorla Observatory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Turku, Väisäläntie 20, 21500 Piikkiö, Finland
17 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
18 Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Sternwarte 5, 07778 Tautenburg, Germany
Received: 14 August 2017
Accepted: 20 October 2017
The progenitors of astronomical transients are linked to a specific stellar population and galactic environment, and observing their host galaxies hence constrains the physical nature of the transient itself. Here, we use imaging from the Hubble Space Telescope, and spatially resolved, medium-resolution spectroscopy from the Very Large Telescope obtained with X-shooter and MUSE to study the host of the very luminous transient ASASSN-15lh. The dominant stellar population at the transient site is old (around 1 to 2 Gyr) without signs of recent star formation. We also detect emission from ionized gas, originating from three different, time invariable, narrow components of collisionally excited metal and Balmer lines. The ratios of emission lines in the Baldwin-Phillips-Terlevich diagnostic diagram indicate that the ionization source is a weak active galactic nucleus with a black hole mass of M• = 5-3+8 × 108 M⊙, derived through the M•-σ relation. The narrow line components show spatial and velocity offsets on scales of 1 kpc and 500 km s-1, respectively; these offsets are best explained by gas kinematics in the narrow-line region. The location of the central component, which we argue is also the position of the supermassive black hole, aligns with that of the transient within an uncertainty of 170 pc. Using this positional coincidence as well as other similarities with the hosts of tidal disruption events, we strengthen the argument that the transient emission observed as ASASSN-15lh is related to the disruption of a star around a supermassive black hole, most probably spinning with a Kerr parameter a• ≳ 0.5.
Key words: stars: individual: ASASSN-15lh / quasars: supermassive black holes
The data used in this manuscript are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (184.108.40.206) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/610/A14
© ESO, 2018
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