Radio and X-Ray Observations of the Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transient at 2020xnd

Joe S. Bright*, Raffaella Margutti, David Matthews, Daniel Brethauer, Deanne Coppejans, Mark H. Wieringa, Brian D. Metzger, Lindsay Demarchi, Tanmoy Laskar, Charles Romero, Kate D. Alexander, Assaf Horesh, Giulia Migliori, Ryan Chornock, E. Berger, Michael Bietenholz, Mark J. Devlin, Simon R. Dicker, W. V. Jacobson-Galán, Brian S. MasonDan Milisavljevic, Sara E. Motta, Tony Mroczkowski, Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Lauren Rhodes, Craig L. Sarazin, Itai Sfaradi, Jonathan Sievers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We present deep X-ray and radio observations of the fast blue optical transient (FBOT) AT 2020xnd/ZTF 20acigmel at z = 0.2433 from 13 days to 269 days after explosion. AT 2020xnd belongs to the category of optically luminous FBOTs with similarities to the archetypal event AT 2018cow. AT 2020xnd shows luminous radio emission reaching L ν ≈ 8 × 1029 erg s-1 Hz-1 at 20 GHz and 75 days post-explosion, accompanied by luminous and rapidly fading soft X-ray emission peaking at L X ≈ 6 × 1042 erg s-1. Interpreting the radio emission in the context of synchrotron radiation from the explosion's shock interaction with the environment, we find that AT 2020xnd launched a high-velocity outflow (v ∼0.1c-0.2c) propagating into a dense circumstellar medium (effective Ṁ≈10-3M yr-1 for an assumed wind velocity of v w = 1000 km s-1). Similar to AT 2018cow, the detected X-ray emission is in excess compared to the extrapolated synchrotron spectrum and constitutes a different emission component, possibly powered by accretion onto a newly formed black hole or neutron star. These properties make AT 2020xnd a high-redshift analog to AT 2018cow, and establish AT 2020xnd as the fourth member of the class of optically luminous FBOTs with luminous multiwavelength counterparts.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number112
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the anonymous referee for their comments that helped improve this manuscript. We thank Anna Ho for sharing an advanced copy of her manuscript with us. Raffaella Margutti’s team at Berkeley and Northwestern is partially funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation under grant # 2018-0911 (PI: Margutti). Support for this work was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through Chandra Award Number GO1-22062X issued by the Chandra X-ray Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for and on behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under contract NAS8-03060. R.M. acknowledges support by the National Science Foundation under Award No. AST-1909796 and AST-1944985. R.M. is a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in the Gravity & the Extreme Universe Program, 2019 and an Alfred P. Sloan fellow in Physics, 2019. W.J-G. is supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1842165 and the IDEAS Fellowship Program at Northwestern University. W.J-G acknowledges support through NASA grants in support of Hubble Space Telescope programs GO-16075 and GO-16500. The Berger Time-Domain Group at Harvard is supported in part by NSF and NASA grants. D.M. acknowledges NSF support from grants PHY-1914448 and AST-2037297.

Funding Information:
This project makes use of the NuSTARDAS software package. We thank Rob Beswick and the eMERLIN team for approving and carrying out DDT observations of AT 2020xnd. We thank Jamie Stevens and the ATCA team for approving DDT observations of AT 2020xnd. The Australia Telescope Compact Array is part of the Australia Telescope National Facility which is funded by the Australian Government for operation as a National Facility managed by CSIRO. We acknowledge the Gomeroi people as the traditional owners of the Observatory site. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. This paper makes use of the following ALMA data: ADS/JAO.ALMA#2019.1.01157.T. ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), MOST and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ. The Green Bank Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. GMRT is run by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. The scientific results reported in this article are based in part on observations made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. This research has made use of software provided by the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC) in the application packages CIAO. The MeerKAT telescope is operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is a facility of the National Research Foundation, an agency of the Department of Science and Innovation. Funding for SDSS-III has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The SDSS-III website is . SDSS-III is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS-III Collaboration including the University of Arizona, the Brazilian Participation Group, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Florida, the French Participation Group, the German Participation Group, Harvard University, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, the Michigan State/Notre Dame/JINA Participation Group, Johns Hopkins University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, New Mexico State University, New York University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the Spanish Participation Group, University of Tokyo, University of Utah, Vanderbilt University, University of Virginia, University of Washington, and Yale University. We thank the staff of the GMRT that made these observations possible. GMRT is run by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.


Dive into the research topics of 'Radio and X-Ray Observations of the Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transient at 2020xnd'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this