A tidal disruption-like X-ray flare from the quiescent galaxy SDSS J120136.02+300305.5
by Saxton, R. D. and Read, A. M. and Esquej, P. and Komossa, S. and Dougherty, S. and Rodriguez-Pascual, P. and Barrado, D.
Accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics. 11 pages, 11 figures
SDSS J120136.02+300305.5 was detected in an XMM-Newton slew from June 2010 with a flux 56 times higher than an upper limit from ROSAT, corresponding to Lx~3×10^44 ergs/s. It has the optical spectrum of a quiescent galaxy (z=0.146). Overall the X-ray flux has evolved consistently with the canonical t^-5/3 model, expected for returning stellar debris from a tidal disruption event, fading by a factor ~300 over 300 days. In detail the source is very variable and became invisible to Swift between 27 and 48 days after discovery, perhaps due to self-absorption. The X-ray spectrum is soft but is not the expected tail of optically thick thermal emission. It may be fit with a Bremsstrahlung or double-power-law model and is seen to soften with time and declining flux. Optical spectra taken 12 days and 11 months after discovery indicate a deficit of material in the broad line and coronal line regions of this galaxy, while a deep radio non-detection implies that a jet was not launched during this event.