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Two peculiar fast transients in a strongly lensed host galaxy

Abstract : A massive galaxy cluster can serve as a magnifying glass for distant stellar populations, as strong gravitational lensing magnifies background galaxies and exposes details that are otherwise undetectable. In time-domain astronomy, imaging programmes with a short cadence are able to detect rapidly evolving transients, previously unseen by surveys designed for slowly evolving supernovae. Here, we describe two unusual transient events discovered in a Hubble Space Telescope programme that combined these techniques with high-cadence imaging on a field with a strong-lensing galaxy cluster. These transients were faster and fainter than any supernovae, but substantially more luminous than a classical nova. We find that they can be explained as separate eruptions of a luminous blue variable star or a recurrent nova, or as an unrelated pair of stellar microlensing events. To distinguish between these hypotheses will require clarification of the cluster lens models, along with more high-cadence imaging of the field that could detect related transient episodes. This discovery suggests that the intersection of strong lensing with high-cadence transient surveys may be a fruitful path for future astrophysical transient studies.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 1, 2022 - 11:24:53 AM
Last modification on : Monday, July 4, 2022 - 3:33:58 AM

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S. A. Rodney, I. Balestra, M. Bradac, G. Brammer, T. Broadhurst, et al.. Two peculiar fast transients in a strongly lensed host galaxy. Nature Astronomy, 2018, 2, pp.324-333. ⟨10.1038/s41550-018-0405-4⟩. ⟨insu-03711229⟩

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