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  1. ABSTRACT

    We present a series of ground-based photometry and spectroscopy of the superluminous Type IIn supernova (SN) ASASSN-15ua, which shows evidence for strong interaction with pre-existing dense circumstellar material (CSM). Our observations constrain the speed, mass-loss rate, and extent of the progenitor wind shortly before explosion. A narrow P Cygni absorption component reveals a progenitor wind speed of ∼100 km s−1. As observed in previous SNe IIn, the intermediate-width H α emission became more asymmetric and blueshifted over time, suggesting either asymmetric CSM, an asymmetric explosion, or increasing selective extinction from dust within the post-shock shell or SN ejecta. Based on the CSM radius and speed, we find that the progenitor suffered extreme eruptive mass-loss with a rate of 0.1–1 M⊙ yr−1 during the ∼12 yr immediately before the death of the star that imparted ∼ 1048 erg of kinetic energy to the CSM. Integrating its V-band light curve over the first 170 d after discovery, we find that ASASSN-15ua radiated at least 3 × 1050 erg in visual light alone, giving a lower limit to the total radiated energy that may have approached 1051 erg. ASASSN-15ua exhibits many similarities to two well-studied superluminous SNe IIn: SN 2006tf and SN 2010jl. Based on a detailed comparison of these three, we find that ASASSN-15ua falls in between these two events in a wide variety of observed properties and derived physical parameters, illustrating a continuum of behaviour across superluminous SNe IIn.

     
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  2. Abstract

    We perform a comprehensive search for optical precursor emission at the position of SN 2023ixf using data from the DLT40, ZTF, and ATLAS surveys. By comparing the current data set with precursor outburst hydrodynamical model light curves, we find that the probability of a significant outburst within 5 yr of explosion is low, and the circumstellar material (CSM) ejected during any possible precursor outburst is likely smaller than ∼0.015M. By comparing to a set of toy models, we find that, if there was a precursor outburst, the duration must have been shorter than ∼100 days for a typical brightness ofMr≃ −9 mag or shorter than 200 days forMr≃ −8 mag; brighter, longer outbursts would have been discovered. Precursor activity like that observed in the normal Type II SN 2020tlf (Mr≃ −11.5) can be excluded in SN 2023ixf. If the dense CSM inferred by early flash spectroscopy and other studies is related to one or more precursor outbursts, then our observations indicate that any such outburst would have to be faint and only last for days to months, or it occurred more than 5 yr prior to the explosion. Alternatively, any dense, confined CSM may not be due to eruptive mass loss from a single red supergiant progenitor. Taken together, the results of SN 2023ixf and SN 2020tlf indicate that there may be more than one physical mechanism behind the dense CSM inferred around some normal Type II supernovae.

     
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  3. Abstract

    We present high-cadence photometric and spectroscopic observations of SN 2023axu, a classical Type II supernova with an absoluteV-band peak magnitude of –17.2 ± 0.1 mag. SN 2023axu was discovered by the Distance Less Than 40 Mpc (DLT40) survey within 1 day of the last nondetection in the nearby galaxy NGC 2283 at 13.7 Mpc. We modeled the early light curve using a recently updated shock cooling model that includes the effects of line blanketing and found the explosion epoch to be MJD 59971.48 ± 0.03 and the probable progenitor to be a red supergiant. The shock cooling model underpredicts the overall UV data, which point to a possible interaction with circumstellar material. This interpretation is further supported by spectral behavior. We see a ledge feature around 4600 Å in the very early spectra (+1.1 and +1.5 days after the explosion), which can be a sign of circumstellar interaction. The signs of circumstellar material are further bolstered by the presence of absorption features blueward of Hαand Hβat day >40, which is also generally attributed to circumstellar interaction. Our analysis shows the need for high-cadence early photometric and spectroscopic data to decipher the mass-loss history of the progenitor.

     
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  4. ABSTRACT

    We analyse photometric observations of the supernova (SN) impostor SN 2000ch in NGC 3432 covering the time since its discovery. This source was previously observed to have four outbursts in 2000–2010. Observations now reveal at least three additional outbursts in 2004–2007, and 16 outbursts in 2010–2022. Outburst light curves are irregular and multipeaked, exhibiting a wide variety of peak magnitude, duration, and shape. The outbursts after 2008 repeat with a period of 200.7 ± 2 d, while the outburst in 2000 seems to match with a shorter period. The next outburst should occur around January/February 2023. We propose that these periodic eruptions arise from violent interaction around times of periastron in an eccentric binary system, similar to the periastron encounters of η Carinae leading up to its Great Eruption, and resembling the erratic pre-SN eruptions of SN 2009ip. We attribute the irregularity of the eruptions to the interplay between the orbit and the variability of the luminous blue variable (LBV) primary star, wherein each successive periastron pass may have a different intensity or duration due to the changing radius and mass-loss rate of the LBV-like primary. Such outbursts may occasionally be weak or undetectable if the LBV is relatively quiescent at periastron but can be much more extreme when the LBV is active. The observed change in orbital period may be a consequence of mass lost in outbursts. Given the similarity to the progenitor of SN 2009ip, SN 2000ch deserves continued attention in the event it is headed for a stellar merger or an SN-like explosion.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT

    We report on analysis using the JWST to identify a candidate progenitor star of the Type II-plateau (II-P) supernova SN 2022acko in the nearby, barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300. To our knowledge, our discovery represents the first time JWST has been used to localize a progenitor system in pre-explosion archival Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images. We astrometrically registered a JWST NIRCam image from 2023 January, in which the SN was serendipitously captured, to pre-SN HST F160W and F814W images from 2017 and 2004, respectively. An object corresponding precisely to the SN position has been isolated with reasonable confidence. That object has a spectral energy distribution (SED) and overall luminosity consistent with a single-star model having an initial mass possibly somewhat less than the canonical 8 M⊙ theoretical threshold for core collapse (although masses as high as 9 M⊙ for the star are also possible); however, the star’s SED and luminosity are inconsistent with that of a super-asymptotic giant branch star that might be a forerunner of an electron-capture SN. The properties of the progenitor alone imply that SN 2022acko is a relatively normal SN II-P, albeit most likely a low-luminosity one. The progenitor candidate should be confirmed with follow-up HST imaging at late times, when the SN has sufficiently faded. This potential use of JWST opens a new era of identifying SN progenitor candidates at high spatial resolution.

     
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  6. Abstract

    We present Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging of the site of SN 2015bh in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 2770 taken between 2017 and 2019, nearly four years after the peak of the explosion. In 2017–2018, the transient fades steadily in optical filters before declining more slowly toF814W= −7.1 mag in 2019, ≈4 mag below the level of its eruptive luminous blue variable (LBV) progenitor observed with HST in 2008–2009. The source fades at a constant color ofF555WF814W= 0.4 mag until 2018, similar to SN 2009ip and consistent with a spectrum dominated by interaction of the ejecta with circumstellar material (CSM). A deep optical spectrum obtained in 2021 lacks signatures of ongoing interaction (LHα≲ 1038erg s−1for broadened emission ≲2000 km s−1), but indicates the presence of a nearby Hiiregion (≲300 pc). The color evolution of the fading source makes it unlikely that emission from a scattered-light echo or binary OB companion of the progenitor contributes significantly to the flattening of the late-time light curve. The remaining emission in 2019 may plausibly be attributed an evolved/inflated companion or an unresolved (≲3 pc), young stellar cluster. Importantly, the color evolution of SN 2015bh rules out scenarios in which the surviving progenitor is obscured by nascent dust and does not clearly indicate a transition to a hotter, optically faint state. The simplest explanation is that the massive progenitor did not survive. SN 2015bh likely represents a remarkable example of the terminal explosion of a massive star preceded by decades of end-stage eruptive variability.

     
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  7. Abstract

    We present the optical spectroscopic evolution of SN 2023ixf seen in subnight cadence spectra from 1.18 to 15 days after explosion. We identify high-ionization emission features, signatures of interaction with material surrounding the progenitor star, that fade over the first 7 days, with rapid evolution between spectra observed within the same night. We compare the emission lines present and their relative strength to those of other supernovae with early interaction, finding a close match to SN 2020pni and SN 2017ahn in the first spectrum and SN 2014G at later epochs. To physically interpret our observations, we compare them to CMFGEN models with confined, dense circumstellar material around a red supergiant (RSG) progenitor from the literature. We find that very few models reproduce the blended Niii(λλ4634.0,4640.6)/Ciii(λλ4647.5,4650.0) emission lines observed in the first few spectra and their rapid disappearance thereafter, making this a unique diagnostic. From the best models, we find a mass-loss rate of 10−3–10−2Myr−1, which far exceeds the mass-loss rate for any steady wind, especially for an RSG in the initial mass range of the detected progenitor. These mass-loss rates are, however, similar to rates inferred for other supernovae with early circumstellar interaction. Using the phase when the narrow emission features disappear, we calculate an outer dense radius of circumstellar materialRCSM,out≈ 5 × 1014cm, and a mean circumstellar material density ofρ= 5.6 × 10−14g cm−3. This is consistent with the lower limit on the outer radius of the circumstellar material we calculate from the peak Hαemission flux,RCSM,out≳ 9 × 1013cm.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  8. Abstract

    We analyze pre-explosion near- and mid-infrared (IR) imaging of the site of SN 2023ixf in the nearby spiral galaxy M101 and characterize the candidate progenitor star. The star displays compelling evidence of variability with a possible period of ≈1000 days and an amplitude of Δm≈ 0.6 mag in extensive monitoring with the Spitzer Space Telescope since 2004, likely indicative of radial pulsations. Variability consistent with this period is also seen in the near-IRJandKsbands between 2010 and 2023, up to just 10 days before the explosion. Beyond the periodic variability, we do not find evidence for any IR-bright pre-supernova outbursts in this time period. The IR brightness (MKs=10.7mag) and color (JKs= 1.6 mag) of the star suggest a luminous and dusty red supergiant. Modeling of the phase-averaged spectral energy distribution (SED) yields constraints on the stellar temperature (Teff=35001400+800K) and luminosity (logL/L=5.1±0.2). This places the candidate among the most luminous Type II supernova progenitors with direct imaging constraints, with the caveat that many of these rely only on optical measurements. Comparison with stellar evolution models gives an initial mass ofMinit= 17 ± 4M. We estimate the pre-supernova mass-loss rate of the star between 3 and 19 yr before explosion from the SED modeling atṀ3×105to 3 × 10−4Myr−1for an assumed wind velocity ofvw= 10 km s−1, perhaps pointing to enhanced mass loss in a pulsation-driven wind.

     
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  9. Abstract

    We present near- and mid-infrared (0.9–18μm) photometry of supernova (SN) 2021afdx, which was imaged serendipitously with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as part of its Early Release Observations of the Cartwheel Galaxy. Our ground-based optical observations show it is likely to be a Type IIb SN, the explosion of a yellow supergiant, and its infrared spectral energy distribution (SED) ≈200 days after explosion shows two distinct components, which we attribute to hot ejecta and warm dust. By fitting models of dust emission to the SED, we derive a dust mass of(3.80.3+0.5)×103M, which is the highest yet observed in a Type IIb SN but consistent with other Type II SNe observed by the Spitzer Space Telescope. We also find that the radius of the dust is significantly larger than the radius of the ejecta, as derived from spectroscopic velocities during the photospheric phase, which implies that we are seeing an infrared echo off of preexisting dust in the progenitor environment, rather than dust newly formed by the SN. Our results show the power of JWST to address questions of dust formation in SNe, and therefore the presence of dust in the early universe, with much larger samples than have been previously possible.

     
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  10. Abstract

    We present the densely sampled early light curve of the Type II supernova (SN) 2023ixf, first observed within hours of explosion in the nearby Pinwheel Galaxy (Messier 101; 6.7 Mpc). Comparing these data to recently updated models of shock-cooling emission, we find that the progenitor likely had a radius of 410 ± 10R. Our estimate is model dependent but consistent with a red supergiant. These models provide a good fit to the data starting about 1 day after the explosion, despite the fact that the classification spectrum shows signatures of circumstellar material around SN 2023ixf during that time. Photometry during the first day after the explosion, provided almost entirely by amateur astronomers, does not agree with the shock-cooling models or a simple power-law rise fit to data after 1 day. We consider the possible causes of this discrepancy, including precursor activity from the progenitor star, circumstellar interaction, and emission from the shock before or after it breaks out of the stellar surface. The very low luminosity (−11 mag >M> −14 mag) and short duration of the initial excess lead us to prefer a scenario related to prolonged emission from the SN shock traveling through the progenitor system.

     
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