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Sifting for Sapphires: Systematic Selection of Tidal Disruption Events in iPTF

  • Author(s): Hung, T
  • Gezari, S
  • Cenko, SB
  • Velzen, SV
  • Blagorodnova, N
  • Yan, L
  • Kulkarni, SR
  • Lunnan, R
  • Kupfer, T
  • Leloudas, G
  • Kong, AKH
  • Nugent, PE
  • Fremling, C
  • Laher, RR
  • Masci, FJ
  • Cao, Y
  • Roy, R
  • Petrushevska, T
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.04936
No data is associated with this publication.
Abstract

© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. We present results from a systematic selection of tidal disruption events (TDEs) in a wide-area (4800 deg2), g+R band, Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory experiment. Our selection targets typical optically selected TDEs: bright (>60% flux increase) and blue transients residing in the centers of red galaxies. Using photometric selection criteria to down-select from a total of 493 nuclear transients to a sample of 26 sources, we then use follow-up UV imaging with the Neil Gehrels Swift Telescope, ground-based optical spectroscopy, and light curve fitting to classify them as 14 Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), 9 highly variable active galactic nuclei (AGNs), 2 confirmed TDEs, and 1 potential core-collapse supernova. We find it possible to filter AGNs by employing a more stringent transient color cut (g - r < -0.2 mag); further, UV imaging is the best discriminator for filtering SNe, since SNe Ia can appear as blue, optically, as TDEs in their early phases. However, when UV-optical color is unavailable, higher-precision astrometry can also effectively reduce SNe contamination in the optical. Our most stringent optical photometric selection criteria yields a 4.5:1 contamination rate, allowing for a manageable number of TDE candidates for complete spectroscopic follow-up and real-time classification in the Zwicky Transient Facility era. We measure a TDE per galaxy rate of (90% CL in Poisson statistics). This does not account for TDEs outside our selection criteria, and thus may not reflect the total TDE population, which is yet to be fully mapped.

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