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A concordance scenario for the observed neutrino from a tidal disruption event

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 12 March 2021

This article has been updated


During a tidal disruption event, a star is torn apart by the tidal forces of a supermassive black hole, with about 50% of the star’s mass eventually accreted by the black hole. The resulting flare can, in extreme cases of super-Eddington mass accretion, result in a relativistic jet1,2,3,4. While tidal disruption events have been theoretically proposed as sources of high-energy cosmic rays5,6 and neutrinos7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14, stacking searches indicate that their contribution to the diffuse extragalactic neutrino flux is very low15. However, a recent association of a track-like astrophysical neutrino (IceCube-191001A16) with a tidal disruption event (AT2019dsg17) indicates that some tidal disruption events can accelerate cosmic rays to petaelectronvolt energies. Here we introduce a phenomenological concordance scenario with a relativistic jet to explain this association: an expanding cocoon progressively obscures the X-rays emitted by the accretion disk, while at the same time providing a sufficiently intense external target of backscattered X-rays for the production of neutrinos via proton–photon interactions. We also reproduce the delay (relative to the peak) of the neutrino emission by scaling the production radius with the black-body radius. Our energetics and assumptions for the jet and the cocoon are compatible with expectations from numerical simulations of tidal disruption events.

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Fig. 1: Time evolution of different luminosities in the jetted TDE model.
Fig. 2: Illustration of the evolution of the TDE outflow in the concordance scenario.
Fig. 3: Predicted neutrino fluence for the jetted TDE model.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available in the supplementary information or from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

The codes that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Change history


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We thank A. Franckowiak, M. Kowalski, R. Stein, A. Taylor and S. van Velzen for useful discussions. This work has been supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant number 646623), and by the US National Science Foundation grant number PHY-1613708.

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Authors and Affiliations



The theoretical ideas were equally developed by C.L. and W.W. Numerical simulations were performed by W.W. The artwork was produced by C.L. and the results figures by W.W. Both authors contributed equally to the manuscript writing.

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Correspondence to Walter Winter.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review informationNature Astronomy thanks Francis Halzen, Kikitake Hayasaki and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Source Data Fig. 3

Source data (ascii) for curves (description in beginning of file).

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Winter, W., Lunardini, C. A concordance scenario for the observed neutrino from a tidal disruption event. Nat Astron 5, 472–477 (2021).

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