An unusually brilliant transient in the galaxy M85

S. R. Kulkarni, E. O. Ofek, A. Rau, S. B. Cenko, A. M. Soderberg, Derek Brindley Fox, A. Gal-Yam, P. L. Capak, D. S. Moon, W. Li, A. V. Filippenko, E. Egami, J. Kartaltepe, D. B. Sanders

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Abstract

Historically, variable and transient sources have both surprised astronomers and provided new views of the heavens. Here we report the discovery of an optical transient in the outskirts of the lenticular galaxy Messier 85 in the Virgo cluster. With a peak absolute R magnitude of -12, this event is distinctly brighter than novae, but fainter than type Ia supernovae (which are expected in a population of old stars in lenticular galaxies). Archival images of the field do not show a luminous star at that position with an upper limit in the g filter of about -4.1 mag, so it is unlikely to be a giant eruption from a luminous blue variable star. Over a two-month period, the transient source emitted radiation energy of almost 1047 erg and subsequently faded in the optical sky. It is similar to, but six times more luminous at peak than, an enigmatic transient in the galaxy M31 (ref. 1). A possible origin of M85 OT2006-1 is a stellar merger. If so, searches for similar events in nearby galaxies will not only allow study of the physics of hyper-Eddington sources, but also probe an important phase in the evolution of stellar binary systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-460
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume447
Issue number7143
DOIs
StatePublished - May 24 2007

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Galaxies
Physics
Radiation
Population

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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Kulkarni, S. R., Ofek, E. O., Rau, A., Cenko, S. B., Soderberg, A. M., Fox, D. B., ... Sanders, D. B. (2007). An unusually brilliant transient in the galaxy M85. Nature, 447(7143), 458-460. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05822
Kulkarni, S. R. ; Ofek, E. O. ; Rau, A. ; Cenko, S. B. ; Soderberg, A. M. ; Fox, Derek Brindley ; Gal-Yam, A. ; Capak, P. L. ; Moon, D. S. ; Li, W. ; Filippenko, A. V. ; Egami, E. ; Kartaltepe, J. ; Sanders, D. B. / An unusually brilliant transient in the galaxy M85. In: Nature. 2007 ; Vol. 447, No. 7143. pp. 458-460.
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Kulkarni, SR, Ofek, EO, Rau, A, Cenko, SB, Soderberg, AM, Fox, DB, Gal-Yam, A, Capak, PL, Moon, DS, Li, W, Filippenko, AV, Egami, E, Kartaltepe, J & Sanders, DB 2007, 'An unusually brilliant transient in the galaxy M85', Nature, vol. 447, no. 7143, pp. 458-460. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05822

An unusually brilliant transient in the galaxy M85. / Kulkarni, S. R.; Ofek, E. O.; Rau, A.; Cenko, S. B.; Soderberg, A. M.; Fox, Derek Brindley; Gal-Yam, A.; Capak, P. L.; Moon, D. S.; Li, W.; Filippenko, A. V.; Egami, E.; Kartaltepe, J.; Sanders, D. B.

In: Nature, Vol. 447, No. 7143, 24.05.2007, p. 458-460.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Kulkarni SR, Ofek EO, Rau A, Cenko SB, Soderberg AM, Fox DB et al. An unusually brilliant transient in the galaxy M85. Nature. 2007 May 24;447(7143):458-460. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05822