Bright PanSTARRS Nuclear Transients – what are they?
1 University of Edinburgh
2 Johns Hopkins University
3 University of Maryland
4 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
5 University of Durham
6 Queens University Belfast
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We present an initial analysis of 49 bright transients occurring in the nuclei of galaxies with no previous known Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN). They have been discovered as part of the PanSTARRs 3π survey, and followed up with the Liverpool Telescope. Based on colours, light curve shape, and a small number with optical spectra, these transients seem to fall into three groups. Red/fast transients are nuclear supernovae of various types. Some bright nuclear transients are blue and decay on a timescale of a few months; these may be candidates for tidal disruption events. However most of the events we have found are blue and are either still rising or decaying slowly, on a timescale of years; the few spectra we have show AGN at z ∼ 1. We argue that these transients are background AGN microlensed by stars in foreground galaxies by a factor 10–100. Monitoring such events gives us very promising prospects for measuring the structure of AGN and so testing current theories.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2012
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