Flashlights: An Off-Caustic Lensed Star at Redshift $z$ = 1.26 in Abell 370

Ashish Kumar Meena, Wenlei Chen, Adi Zitrin, Patrick L. Kelly, Miriam Golubchik, Rui Zhou, Amruth Alfred, Tom Broadhurst, Jose M. Diego, Masamune Oguri, Liliya L. R. Williams, Alexei V. Filippenko, Sung Kei Li

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We report the discovery of a transient seen in a strongly lensed arc at redshift $z_{\rm s}=1.2567$ in \emph{Hubble Space Telescope} imaging of the Abell 370 galaxy cluster. The transient is detected at $29.51\pm0.14$ AB mag in a WFC3/UVIS F200LP difference image made using observations from two different epochs, obtained in the framework of the \emph{Flashlights} program, and is also visible in the F350LP band ($m_{\rm F350LP}\sim30.53$ AB). The transient is observed on the negative-parity side of the critical curve at a distance of $\sim 0.6''$ from it, greater than previous examples of lensed stars. The large distance from the critical curve yields a significantly smaller macro-magnification, but our simulations show that bright, O/B-type supergiants can reach sufficiently high magnifications to be seen at the observed position and magnitude. In addition, the observed transient image is a trailing image with an observer-frame time delay of $\sim+0.8$ days from its expected counterpart, so that any transient lasting for longer than that should have also been seen on the minima side and is thus excluded. This, together with the blue color we measure for the transient ($m_{\rm F200LP} - m_{\rm F350LP} \sim [-0.7,-1]$ AB mag), rules out most other transient candidates such as (kilo)novae, for example, and makes a lensed star the prime candidate. Assuming the transient is indeed a lensed star as suggested, many more such events should be detected in the near future in cluster surveys with the \emph{Hubble Space Telescope} and \emph{James Webb Space Telescope}.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
StatePublished - Nov 2 2022

Bibliographical note

11 pages. 5 figures. Comments are welcome


  • astro-ph.CO

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