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Science. 2011 Jul 8;333(6039):203-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1207150. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

A possible relativistic jetted outburst from a massive black hole fed by a tidally disrupted star.

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Department of Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3411, USA.


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 10(6) to 10(7) 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.

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