AT 2020iko: A WZ Sge-type Dwarf Nova Candidate with an Anomalous Precursor Event

Monika D. Soraisam, Sarah R. Desantis, Chien Hsiu Lee, Thomas Matheson, Gautham Narayan, Abhijit Saha, David J. Sand, Carl Stubens, Paula Szkody, Nicholas Wolf, Samuel D. Wyatt, Ryohei Hosokawa, Nobuyuki Kawai, Katsuhiro L. Murata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ongoing Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) survey is generating a massive alert rate from a variety of optical transients and variable stars, which are being filtered down to subsets meeting user-specified criteria by broker systems such as the Arizona-NOIRLab Temporal Analysis and Response to Events System (ANTARES). In a beta implementation of the algorithm of Soraisam et al. on ANTARES, we flagged AT 2020iko from the ZTF real-time alert stream as an anomalous source. This source is located close to a red extended Sloan Digital Sky Survey source. In the first few epochs of detection, it exhibited a V-shaped brightness profile, preceded by nondetections both in ZTF and in the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae extending to 2014. Its full light curve shows a precursor event, followed by a main superoutburst and at least two rebrightenings. A low-resolution spectrum of this source points to a dwarf nova (DN) nature. Although some of the features of AT 2020iko indicate an SU UMa-type DN, its large amplitude, presence of rebrightenings, and inferred supercycle period of ≥6 yr are in favor of AT 2020iko being a new WZ Sge-type DN candidate, a subset of rare DNe consisting of extreme mass-ratio (<0.1) binaries with an orbital period around the period minimum. The precusor event of AT 2020iko brightened by 6.5 mag, while its decay spanned 3-5 mag. We speculate this superoutburst is associated with a less expanded accretion disk than in typical superoutbursts in WZ Sge systems, with the large depth of the precursor decay implying an extremely small mass ratio. To the best of our knowledge, such a precursor event has not been recorded for any DN. This result serves to demonstrate the efficacy of our real-time anomaly search algorithm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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