X-ray flares from the stellar tidal disruption by a candidate supermassive black hole binary

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Xinwen Shu, Wenjie Zhang, Shuo Li, Ning Jiang, Liming Dou, Zhen Yan, Fu-Guo Xie, Rongfeng Shen, Luming Sun, Fukun Liu, Tinggui Wang

Optical transient surveys have led to the discovery of dozens of stellar tidal disruption events (TDEs) by massive black hole in the centers of galaxies. Despite extensive searches, X-ray follow-up observations have produced no or only weak X-ray detections in most of them. Here we report the discovery of delayed X-ray brightening around 140 days after the optical outburst in the TDE OGLE16aaa, followed by several flux dips during the decay phase. These properties are unusual for standard TDEs and could be explained by the presence of supermassive black hole binary or patchy obscuration. In either scenario, the X-rays can be produced promptly after the disruption but are blocked in the early phase, possibly by a radiation-dominated ejecta which leads to the bulk of optical and ultraviolet emission. Our findings imply that the reprocessing is important in the TDE early evolution, and X-ray observations are promising in revealing supermassive black hole binaries.


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