A bright triple transient that vanished within 50 min

Solano, Enrique; Marcy, Geoffrey W.; Villarroel, Beatriz; Geier, Stefan; Streblyanska, Alina; Lombardi, Gianluca; Bär, Rudolf E.; Andruk, Vitaly N.
Referencia bibliográfica

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Fecha de publicación:
Número de autores
Número de autores del IAC
Número de citas
Número de citas referidas
We report on three optically bright, ~16th mag, point sources within 10 arcsec of each other that vanished within 1 h, based on two consecutive exposures at Palomar Observatory on 1952 July 19 (POSS I Red and Blue). The three point sources have continued to be absent in telescope exposures during 71 yr with detection thresholds of ~21st mag. We obtained two deep exposures with the 10.4-m Gran Telescopio Canarias on 2023 April 25 and 27 in r and g band, both reaching magnitude 25.5 (3σ). The three point sources are still absent, implying they have dimmed by more than 10 mag within an hour back in 1952. When bright in 1952, the most isolated transient source has a profile nearly the same as comparison stars, implying the sources are subarcsec in angular size and they exhibit no elongation due to movement. This triple transient has observed properties similar to other cases where groups of transients ('multiple transients') have appeared and vanished in a small region within a plate exposure. The explanation for these three transients and the previously reported cases remains unclear. Models involving background objects that are optically luminous for less than 1 h coupled with foreground gravitational lensing seem plausible. If so, a significant population of massive objects with structure serving as the lenses, to produce three images, are required to explain the subhour transients.