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Title: Circumstellar Interaction Powers the Light Curves of Luminous Rapidly Evolving Optical Transients

Rapidly evolving transients, or objects that rise and fade in brightness on timescales two to three times shorter than those of typical Type Ia or Type II supernovae (SNe), have uncertain progenitor systems and powering mechanisms. Recent studies have noted similarities between rapidly evolving transients and Type Ibn SNe, which are powered by ejecta interacting with He-rich circumstellar material (CSM). In this work we present multiband photometric and spectroscopic observations from Las Cumbres Observatory and Swift of four fast-evolving Type Ibn SNe. We compare these observations with those of rapidly evolving transients identified in the literature. We discuss several common characteristics between these two samples, including their light curve and color evolution as well as their spectral features. To investigate a common powering mechanism we construct a grid of analytical model light curves with luminosity inputs from CSM interaction as well as56Ni radioactive decay. We find that models with ejecta masses of ≈1–3M, CSM masses of ≈0.2–1M, and CSM radii of ≈20–65 au can explain the diversity of peak luminosities, rise times, and decline rates observed in Type Ibn SNe and rapidly evolving transients. This suggests that a common progenitor system—the core collapse of a high-mass star within a more » dense CSM shell—can reproduce the light curves of even the most luminous and fast-evolving objects, such as AT 2018cow. This work is one of the first to reproduce the light curves of both SNe Ibn and other rapidly evolving transients with a single model.

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Award ID(s):
1911225 1911151
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 125
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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