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  1. Abstract We measured high-quality surface brightness fluctuation (SBF) distances for a sample of 63 massive early-type galaxies using the WFC3/IR camera on the Hubble Space Telescope. The median uncertainty on the SBF distance measurements is 0.085 mag, or 3.9% in distance. Achieving this precision at distances of 50–100 Mpc required significant improvements to the SBF calibration and data analysis procedures for WFC3/IR data. Forty-two of the galaxies are from the MASSIVE Galaxy Survey, a complete sample of massive galaxies within ∼100 Mpc; the SBF distances for these will be used to improve the estimates of the stellar and central supermassive black hole masses in these galaxies. Twenty-four of the galaxies are Type Ia supernova hosts, useful for calibrating SN Ia distances for early-type galaxies and exploring possible systematic trends in the peak luminosities. Our results demonstrate that the SBF method is a powerful and versatile technique for measuring distances to galaxies with evolved stellar populations out to 100 Mpc and constraining the local value of the Hubble constant.
  2. Abstract We present high-cadence optical, ultraviolet (UV), and near-infrared data of the nearby ( D ≈ 23 Mpc) Type II supernova (SN) 2021yja. Many Type II SNe show signs of interaction with circumstellar material (CSM) during the first few days after explosion, implying that their red supergiant (RSG) progenitors experience episodic or eruptive mass loss. However, because it is difficult to discover SNe early, the diversity of CSM configurations in RSGs has not been fully mapped. SN 2021yja, first detected within ≈ 5.4 hours of explosion, shows some signatures of CSM interaction (high UV luminosity and radio and x-ray emission) but without the narrow emission lines or early light-curve peak that can accompany CSM. Here we analyze the densely sampled early light curve and spectral series of this nearby SN to infer the properties of its progenitor and CSM. We find that the most likely progenitor was an RSG with an extended envelope, encompassed by low-density CSM. We also present archival Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the host galaxy of SN 2021yja, which allows us to place a stringent upper limit of ≲ 9 M ☉ on the progenitor mass. However, this is in tension with some aspects of themore »SN evolution, which point to a more massive progenitor. Our analysis highlights the need to consider progenitor structure when making inferences about CSM properties, and that a comprehensive view of CSM tracers should be made to give a fuller view of the last years of RSG evolution.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  4. ABSTRACT We present early-time (t < +50 d) observations of SN 2019muj (=ASASSN-19tr), one of the best-observed members of the peculiar SN Iax class. Ultraviolet and optical photometric and optical and near-infrared spectroscopic follow-up started from ∼5 d before maximum light [tmax(B) on $58707.8$ MJD] and covers the photospheric phase. The early observations allow us to estimate the physical properties of the ejecta and characterize the possible divergence from a uniform chemical abundance structure. The estimated bolometric light-curve peaks at 1.05 × 1042 erg s−1 and indicates that only 0.031 M⊙ of 56Ni was produced, making SN 2019muj a moderate luminosity object in the Iax class with peak absolute magnitude of $M_\rm {V} = -16.4$ mag. The estimated date of explosion is t0 = $58698.2$ MJD and implies a short rise time of trise = 9.6 d in B band. We fit of the spectroscopic data by synthetic spectra, calculated via the radiative transfer code tardis. Adopting the partially stratified abundance template based on brighter SNe Iax provides a good match with SN 2019muj. However, without earlier spectra, the need for stratification cannot be stated in most of the elements, except carbon, which is allowed to appear in the outer layers only. SN 2019muj provides amore »unique opportunity to link extremely low-luminosity SNe Iax to well-studied, brighter SNe Iax.« less