Joshua S. Bloom , Dimitrios Giannios , Brian D. Metzger , S. Bradley Cenko , Daniel A. Perley , Nathaniel R. Butler , Nial R. Tanvir , Andrew J. Levan , Paul T. O' Brien , Linda E. Strubbe , Fabio De Colle , Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz , William H. Lee , Sergei Nayakshin , Eliot Quataert , Andrew R. King , Antonino Cucchiara , James Guillochon , Geoffrey C. Bower , Andrew S. Fruchter , Adam N. Morgan , Alexander J. van der Horst
16 April 2011
While gas accretion onto some massive black holes (MBHs) at the centers of galaxies actively powers luminous emission, the vast majority of MBHs are considered dormant. Occasionally, a star passing too near a MBH is torn apart by gravitational forces, leading to a bright panchromatic tidal disruption flare (TDF). While the high-energy transient Swift J164449.3+573451 ("Sw 1644+57") initially displayed none of the theoretically anticipated (nor previously observed) TDF characteristics, we show that the observations (Levan et al. 2011) suggest a sudden accretion event onto a central MBH of mass ~10^6-10^7 solar masses. We find evidence for a mildly relativistic outflow, jet collimation, and a spectrum characterized by synchrotron and inverse Compton processes; this leads to a natural analogy of Sw 1644+57 with a smaller-scale blazar. The phenomenologically novel Sw 1644+57 thus connects the study of TDFs and active galaxies, opening a new vista on disk-jet interactions in BHs and magnetic field generation and transport in accretion systems.