We present results of follow-up optical spectroscopic Multi-Mirror Telescope (MMT) observations of seven rare, extreme coronal line-emitting galaxies reported by Wang et al. Large variations in coronal lines are found in four objects, making them strong candidates for tidal disruption events (TDEs). For the four TDE candidates, all the coronal lines with ionization states higher than [Fe VII] disappear within 5-9 yr. The [Fe VII] line faded by a factor of about five in one object (J0952+2143) within 4 yr, whereas the line emerged in another two objects that previously did not show the line. A strong increment in the [O III] flux is observed, shifting the line ratios toward the loci of active galactic nuclei on the BPT diagram. Surprisingly, we detect a non-canonical [O III] λ5007/[O III] λ4959 ratio of ≃2 in two objects, indicating a large column density of O2+ and thus probably optically thick gas. This result also requires a very large ionization parameter and a relatively soft ionizing spectral energy distribution (e.g., a blackbody with T < 5 × 104 K). Our observations can be explained as the echoing of a strong ultraviolet to soft X-ray flare caused by TDEs on molecular clouds in the inner parsecs of the galactic nuclei. Reanalyzing the Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectra reveals double-peaked or strongly blue-shouldered broad lines in three of the objects, which disappeared in the MMT spectra of two objects and faded by a factor of 10 in 8 yr in the remaining object with a decrease in both the line width and centroid offset. We interpret these broad lines as arising from decelerating biconical outflows. Our results demonstrate that the signatures of echoing can persist for as long as 10 yr and can be used to probe the gas environment in quiescent galactic nuclei.
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This work is supported by NSFC 11233002 and 10973013. This research uses data obtained through the Telescope Access Program (TAP), which is funded by the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Special Fund for Astronomy from the Ministry of Finance. Observations reported here were obtained at the MMT Observatory, a joint facility of the University of Arizona and the Smithsonian Institution. G.J.F. acknowledges support from NSF (1108928 and 1109061) and STScI (HST-AR-12125.01, GO-12560, and HST-GO-12309).
Yang, Chen-Wei; Wang, Ting-Gui; Ferland, Gary J.; Yuan, Weimin; Zhou, Hong-Yan; and Jiang, Peng, "Long-term Spectral Evolution of Tidal Disruption Candidates Selected by Strong Coronal Lines" (2013). Physics and Astronomy Faculty Publications. 59.