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  1. We present photometric and spectroscopic data on three extragalactic luminous red novae (LRNe): AT 2018bwo , AT 2021afy , and AT 2021blu . AT 2018bwo was discovered in NGC 45 (at about 6.8 Mpc) a few weeks after the outburst onset. During the monitoring period, the transient reached a peak luminosity of 10 40 erg s −1 . AT 2021afy , hosted by UGC 10043 (∼49.2 Mpc), showed a double-peaked light curve, with the two peaks reaching a similar luminosity of 2.1(±0.6)×10 41 erg s −1 . Finally, for AT 2021blu in UGC 5829 (∼8.6 Mpc), the pre-outburst phase was well-monitored by several photometric surveys, and the object showed a slow luminosity rise before the outburst. The light curve of AT 2021blu was sampled with an unprecedented cadence until the object disappeared behind the Sun, and it was then recovered at late phases. The light curve of LRN AT 2021blu shows a double peak, with a prominent early maximum reaching a luminosity of 6.5 × 10 40 erg s −1 , which is half of that of AT 2021afy . The spectra of AT 2021afy and AT 2021blu display the expected evolution for LRNe: a blue continuum dominated by prominent Balmer lines in emission during the first peak, and a redder continuum consistent with that of a K-type star with narrow absorption metal lines during the second, broad maximum. The spectra of AT 2018bwo are markedly different, with a very red continuum dominated by broad molecular features in absorption. As these spectra closely resemble those of LRNe after the second peak, AT 2018bwo was probably discovered at the very late evolutionary stages. This would explain its fast evolution and the spectral properties compatible with that of an M-type star. From the analysis of deep frames of the LRN sites years before the outburst, and considerations of the light curves, the quiescent progenitor systems of the three LRNe were likely massive, with primaries ranging from about 13 M ⊙ for AT 2018bwo , to 14 −1 +4 M ⊙ for AT 2021blu , and over 40 M ⊙ for AT 2021afy . 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  2. ABSTRACT

    SN 2018hti was a very nearby (z = 0.0614) superluminous supernova with an exceedingly bright absolute magnitude of −21.7 mag in r band at maximum. The densely sampled pre-maximum light curves of SN 2018hti show a slow luminosity evolution and constrain the rise time to ∼50 rest-frame d. We fitted synthetic light curves to the photometry to infer the physical parameters of the explosion of SN 2018hti for both the magnetar and the CSM-interaction scenarios. We conclude that one of two mechanisms could be powering the luminosity of SN 2018hti; interaction with ∼10 M⊙ of circumstellar material or a magnetar with a magnetic field of Bp∼ 1.3 × 1013 G, and initial period of Pspin∼ 1.8 ms. From the nebular spectrum modelling we infer that SN 2018hti likely results from the explosion of a ${\sim}40\, \mathrm{M}_\odot$ progenitor star.

     
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  3. We present an observational study of the luminous red nova (LRN) AT 2021biy in the nearby galaxy NGC 4631. The field of the object was routinely imaged during the pre-eruptive stage by synoptic surveys, but the transient was detected only at a few epochs from ∼231 days before maximum brightness. The LRN outburst was monitored with unprecedented cadence both photometrically and spectroscopically. AT 2021biy shows a short-duration blue peak, with a bolometric luminosity of ∼1.6 × 10 41 erg s −1 , followed by the longest plateau among LRNe to date, with a duration of 210 days. A late-time hump in the light curve was also observed, possibly produced by a shell-shell collision. AT 2021biy exhibits the typical spectral evolution of LRNe. Early-time spectra are characterised by a blue continuum and prominent H emission lines. Then, the continuum becomes redder, resembling that of a K-type star with a forest of metal absorption lines during the plateau phase. Finally, late-time spectra show a very red continuum ( T BB  ≈ 2050 K) with molecular features (e.g., TiO) resembling those of M-type stars. Spectropolarimetric analysis indicates that AT 2021biy has local dust properties similar to those of V838 Mon in the Milky Way Galaxy. Inspection of archival Hubble Space Telescope data taken on 2003 August 3 reveals a ∼20 M ⊙ progenitor candidate with log ( L / L ⊙ ) = 5.0 dex and T eff  = 5900 K at solar metallicity. The above luminosity and colour match those of a luminous yellow supergiant. Most likely, this source is a close binary, with a 17–24 M ⊙ primary component. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We present and discuss the optical spectrophotometric observations of the nearby (z = 0.087) Type I superluminous supernova (SLSN I) SN 2017gci, whose peak K-corrected absolute magnitude reaches Mg = −21.5 mag. Its photometric and spectroscopic evolution includes features of both slow- and of fast-evolving SLSN I, thus favoring a continuum distribution between the two SLSN-I subclasses. In particular, similarly to other SLSNe I, the multiband light curves (LCs) of SN 2017gci show two re-brightenings at about 103 and 142 d after the maximum light. Interestingly, this broadly agrees with a broad emission feature emerging around 6520 Å after ∼51 d from the maximum light, which is followed by a sharp knee in the LC. If we interpret this feature as Hα, this could support the fact that the bumps are the signature of late interactions of the ejecta with a (hydrogen-rich) circumstellar material. Then we fitted magnetar- and CSM-interaction-powered synthetic LCs on to the bolometric one of SN 2017gci. In the magnetar case, the fit suggests a polar magnetic field Bp ≃ 6 × 1014 G, an initial period of the magnetar Pinitial ≃ 2.8 ms, an ejecta mass $M_{\rm ejecta}\simeq 9\, \mathrm{M}_\odot $ and an ejecta opacity $\kappa \simeq 0.08\, \mathrm{cm}^{2}\, \rm{g}^{-1}$. A CSM-interaction scenario would imply a CSM mass $\simeq 5\, \mathrm{M}_\odot $ and an ejecta mass $\simeq 12\, \mathrm{M}_\odot $. Finally, the nebular spectrum of phase  + 187 d was modeled, deriving a mass of $\sim 10\, {\rm M}_\odot$ for the ejecta. Our models suggest that either a magnetar or CSM interaction might be the power sources for SN 2017gci and that its progenitor was a massive ($40\, {\rm M}_\odot$) star. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    We present the results of our monitoring campaigns of the luminous red novae (LRNe) AT 2020hat in NGC 5068 and AT 2020kog in NGC 6106. The two objects were imaged (and detected) before their discovery by routine survey operations. They show a general trend of slow luminosity rise, lasting at least a few months. The subsequent major LRN outbursts were extensively followed in photometry and spectroscopy. The light curves present an initial short-duration peak, followed by a redder plateau phase. AT 2020kog is a moderately luminous event peaking at ∼7 × 10 40 erg s −1 , while AT 2020hat is almost one order of magnitude fainter than AT 2020kog, although it is still more luminous than V838 Mon. In analogy with other LRNe, the spectra of AT 2020kog change significantly with time. They resemble those of type IIn supernovae at early phases, then they become similar to those of K-type stars during the plateau, and to M-type stars at very late phases. In contrast, AT 2020hat already shows a redder continuum at early epochs, and its spectrum shows the late appearance of molecular bands. A moderate-resolution spectrum of AT 2020hat taken at +37 d after maximum shows a forest of narrow P Cygni lines of metals with velocities of 180 km s −1 , along with an H α emission with a full-width at half-maximum velocity of 250 km s −1 . For AT 2020hat, a robust constraint on its quiescent progenitor is provided by archival images of the Hubble Space Telescope. The progenitor is clearly detected as a mid-K type star, with an absolute magnitude of M F 606 W  = −3.33 ± 0.09 mag and a colour of F 606 W  −  F 814 W  = 1.14 ± 0.05 mag, which are inconsistent with the expectations from a massive star that could later produce a core-collapse supernova. Although quite peculiar, the two objects nicely match the progenitor versus light curve absolute magnitude correlations discussed in the literature. 
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  6. We present the spectroscopic and photometric study of five intermediate-luminosity red transients (ILRTs), namely AT 2010dn, AT 2012jc, AT 2013la, AT 2013lb, and AT 2018aes. They share common observational properties and belong to a family of objects similar to the prototypical ILRT SN 2008S. These events have a rise time that is less than 15 days and absolute peak magnitudes of between −11.5 and −14.5 mag. Their pseudo-bolometric light curves peak in the range 0.5–9.0 × 10 40  erg s −1 and their total radiated energies are on the order of (0.3–3) × 10 47 erg. After maximum brightness, the light curves show a monotonic decline or a plateau, resembling those of faint supernovae IIL or IIP, respectively. At late phases, the light curves flatten, roughly following the slope of the 56 Co decay. If the late-time power source is indeed radioactive decay, these transients produce 56 Ni masses on the order of 10 −4 to 10 −3   M ⊙ . The spectral energy distribution of our ILRT sample, extending from the optical to the mid-infrared (MIR) domain, reveals a clear IR excess soon after explosion and non-negligible MIR emission at very late phases. The spectra show prominent H lines in emission with a typical velocity of a few hundred km s −1 , along with Ca II features. In particular, the [Ca  II ] λ 7291,7324 doublet is visible at all times, which is a characteristic feature for this family of transients. The identified progenitor of SN 2008S, which is luminous in archival Spitzer MIR images, suggests an intermediate-mass precursor star embedded in a dusty cocoon. We propose the explosion of a super-asymptotic giant branch star forming an electron-capture supernova as a plausible explanation for these events. 
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  7. In this paper we report the results of the first ~four years of spectroscopic and photometric monitoring of the Type IIn supernova SN 2015da (also known as PSN J13522411+3941286, or iPTF16tu). The supernova exploded in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 5337 in a relatively highly extinguished environment. The transient showed prominent narrow Balmer lines in emission at all times and a slow rise to maximum in all bands. In addition, early observations performed by amateur astronomers give a very well-constrained explosion epoch. The observables are consistent with continuous interaction between the supernova ejecta and a dense and extended H-rich circumstellar medium. The presence of such an extended and dense medium is difficult to reconcile with standard stellar evolution models, since the metallicity at the position of SN 2015da seems to be slightly subsolar. Interaction is likely the mechanism powering the light curve, as confirmed by the analysis of the pseudo bolometric light curve, which gives a total radiated energy ≳ 10 51 erg. Modeling the light curve in the context of a supernova shock breakout through a dense circumstellar medium allowed us to infer the mass of the prexisting gas to be ≃ 8 M ⊙ , with an extreme mass-loss rate for the progenitor star ≃0.6 M ⊙ yr −1 , suggesting that most of the circumstellar gas was produced during multiple eruptive events. Near- and mid-infrared observations reveal a fluxexcess in these domains, similar to those observed in SN 2010jl and other interacting transients, likely due to preexisting radiatively heated dust surrounding the supernova. By modeling the infrared excess, we infer a mass ≳ 0.4 × 10 −3 M ⊙ for the dust. 
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  8. ABSTRACT

    We report on the search for the optical counterpart of the gravitational event GW170814, which was carried out with the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) by the GRAvitational Wave Inaf TeAm. Observations started 17.5 h after the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo alert and we covered an area of 99 deg2 that encloses $\sim 77{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ and $\sim 59{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the initial and refined localization probability regions, respectively. A total of six epochs were secured over nearly two months. The survey reached an average limiting magnitude of 22 AB mag in the r band. After assuming the model described in Perna, Lazzati & Farr, that derives as possible optical counterpart of a BBH (binary black hole) event a transient source declining in about one day, we have computed a survey efficiency of about $5{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$. This paper describes the VST observational strategy and the results obtained by our analysis pipelines developed to search for optical transients in multi-epoch images. We report the catalogue of the candidates with possible identifications based on light-curve fitting. We have identified two dozens of SNe, nine AGNs, and one QSO. Nineteen transients characterized by a single detection were not classified. We have restricted our analysis only to the candidates that fall into the refined localization map. None out of 39 left candidates could be positively associated with GW170814. This result implies that the possible emission of optical radiation from a BBH merger had to be fainter than r ∼ 22 (Loptical ∼ 1.4 × 1042 erg s−1) on a time interval ranging from a few hours up to two months after the gravitational wave event.

     
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