Delayed radio flares from a tidal disruption event

A. Horesh*, S. B. Cenko, I. Arcavi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Radio observations of tidal disruption events (TDEs)—when a star is tidally disrupted by a supermassive black hole (SMBH)—provide a unique laboratory for studying outflows in the vicinity of SMBHs and their connection to accretion onto the supermassive black hole. Radio emission has been detected in only a handful of TDEs so far. Here we report the detection of delayed radio flares from an optically discovered TDE. Our prompt radio observations of the TDE ASASSN-15oi showed no radio emission until the detection of a flare six months later, followed by a second and brighter flare years later. We find that the standard scenario, in which an outflow is launched briefly after the stellar disruption, is unable to explain the combined temporal and spectral properties of the delayed flare. We suggest that the flare is due to the delayed ejection of an outflow, perhaps following a transition in accretion states. Our discovery motivates observations of TDEs at various timescales and highlights a need for new models.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)491-497
Number of pages7
JournalNature Astronomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank T. Piran, E. Nakar and R. Fender for useful discussions. A.H. was suported by grants from the I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), and from the US–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF). I.A. is a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in the Gravity and the Extreme Universe Program and acknowledges support from that program, from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement number 852097), from the Israel Science Foundation (grant number 2752/19), from the United States – Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), and from the Israeli Council for Higher Education Alon Fellowship. We thank the NRAO staff for approving and scheduling the VLA observations. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. We thank the Swift TOO team. This research has made use of data and/or software provided by the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), which is a service of the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA/GSFC. This research has made use of the CIRADA cutout service at, operated by the Canadian Initiative for Radio Astronomy Data Analysis (CIRADA). CIRADA is funded by a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation 2017 Innovation Fund (Project 35999), as well as by the Provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada, the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


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