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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 27, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 10, 2023

    We report the discovery of a transient seen in a strongly lensed arc at redshift zs = 1.2567 in Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the Abell 370 galaxy cluster. The transient is detected at 29.51 ± 0.14 AB mag in a WFC3/UVIS F200LP difference image made using observations from two different epochs, obtained in the framework of the Flashlights programme, and is also visible in the F350LP band (mF350LP ≈ 30.53 ± 0.76 AB mag). The transient is observed on the negative-parity side of the critical curve at a distance of ∼0.6 arcsec from it, greater than previous examples of lensed stars. The large distance from the critical curve yields a significantly smaller macromagnification, but our simulations show that bright, O/B-type supergiants can reach sufficiently high magnifications to be seen at the observed position and magnitude. In addition, the observed transient image is a trailing image with an observer-frame time delay of ∼+0.8 d from its expected counterpart, so that any transient lasting for longer than that should have also been seen on the minima side and is thus excluded. This, together with the blue colour we measure for the transient (mF200LP − mF350LP ≈ [−0.3, −1.6] AB), rules out most other transient candidates such as (kilo)novae, for example, and makes a lensed star the prime candidate. Assuming that the transient is indeed a lensed star as suggested, many more such events should be detected in the near future in cluster surveys with the Hubble Space Telescope and JWST.

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    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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    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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    Optical spectropolarimetry of the normal thermonuclear supernova (SN) 2019np from −14.5 to +14.5 d relative to B-band maximum detected an intrinsic continuum polarization (pcont) of 0.21 ± 0.09 per cent at the first epoch. Between days −11.5 and  +0.5, pcont remained ∼0 and by day +14.5 was again significant at 0.19 ± 0.10 per cent. Not considering the first epoch, the dominant axis of ${\rm Si\, {\small II}}$ λ6355 was roughly constant staying close the continuum until both rotated in opposite directions on day  +14.5. Detailed radiation-hydrodynamical simulations produce a very steep density slope in the outermost ejecta so that the low first-epoch pcont ≈ 0.2 per cent nevertheless suggests a separate structure with an axis ratio ∼2 in the outer carbon-rich (3.5–4) × 10−3 M⊙. Large-amplitude fluctuations in the polarization profiles and a flocculent appearance of the polar diagram for the ${\rm Ca\, {\small II}}$ near-infrared triplet (NIR3) may be related by a common origin. The temporal evolution of the polarization spectra agrees with an off-centre delayed detonation. The late-time increase in polarization and the possible change in position angle are also consistent with an aspherical 56Ni core. The pcont and the absorptions due to ${\rm Si\, {\small II}}$ λ6355 and ${\rm Ca\, {\small II}}$ NIR3 form in the same region of the extended photosphere, with an interplay between line occultation and thermalization producing p. Small-scale polarization features may be due to small-scale structures, but many could be related to atomic patterns of the quasi-continuum; they hardly have an equivalent in the total-flux spectra. We compare SN 2019np to other SNe and develop future objectives and strategies for SN Ia spectropolarimetry.

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  7. Abstract We present near-infrared (NIR) and optical observations of the Type Ic supernova (SN Ic) SN 2021krf obtained between days 13 and 259 at several ground-based telescopes. The NIR spectrum at day 68 exhibits a rising K -band continuum flux density longward of ∼2.0 μ m, and a late-time optical spectrum at day 259 shows strong [O i ] 6300 and 6364 Å emission-line asymmetry, both indicating the presence of dust, likely formed in the SN ejecta. We estimate a carbon-grain dust mass of ∼2 × 10 −5 M ⊙ and a dust temperature of ∼900–1200 K associated with this rising continuum and suggest the dust has formed in SN ejecta. Utilizing the one-dimensional multigroup radiation-hydrodynamics code STELLA, we present two degenerate progenitor solutions for SN 2021krf, characterized by C–O star masses of 3.93 and 5.74 M ⊙ , but with the same best-fit 56 Ni mass of 0.11 M ⊙ for early times (0–70 days). At late times (70–300 days), optical light curves of SN 2021krf decline substantially more slowly than those expected from 56 Co radioactive decay. Lack of H and He lines in the late-time SN spectrum suggests the absence of significant interaction of the ejecta with the circumstellar medium. We reproduce the entire bolometric light curve with a combination of radioactive decay and an additional powering source in the form of a central engine of a millisecond pulsar with a magnetic field smaller than that of a typical magnetar. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  8. Abstract The detonation of a thin (≲0.03 M ⊙ ) helium shell (He-shell) atop a ∼1 M ⊙ white dwarf (WD) is a promising mechanism to explain normal Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), while thicker He-shells and less massive WDs may explain some recently observed peculiar SNe Ia. We present observations of SN 2020jgb, a peculiar SN Ia discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). Near maximum brightness, SN 2020jgb is slightly subluminous (ZTF g -band absolute magnitude −18.7 mag ≲ M g ≲ −18.2 mag depending on the amount of host-galaxy extinction) and shows an unusually red color (0.2 mag ≲ g ZTF − r ZTF ≲ 0.4 mag) due to strong line-blanketing blueward of ∼5000 Å. These properties resemble those of SN 2018byg, a peculiar SN Ia consistent with an He-shell double detonation (DDet) SN. Using detailed radiative transfer models, we show that the optical spectroscopic and photometric evolution of SN 2020jgb is broadly consistent with a ∼0.95–1.00 M ⊙ (C/O core + He-shell) progenitor ignited by a ≳0.1 M ⊙ He-shell. However, one-dimensional radiative transfer models without non-local-thermodynamic-equilibrium treatment cannot accurately characterize the line-blanketing features, making the actual shell mass uncertain. We detect a prominent absorption feature at ∼1 μ m in the near-infrared (NIR) spectrum of SN 2020jgb, which might originate from unburnt helium in the outermost ejecta. While the sample size is limited, we find similar 1 μ m features in all the peculiar He-shell DDet candidates with NIR spectra obtained to date. SN 2020jgb is also the first peculiar He-shell DDet SN discovered in a star-forming dwarf galaxy, indisputably showing that He-shell DDet SNe occur in both star-forming and passive galaxies, consistent with the normal SN Ia population. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  9. Abstract

    Type Iax supernovae (SNe Iax) are the largest known class of peculiar white dwarf SNe, distinct from normal Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia). The unique properties of SNe Iax, especially their strong photospheric lines out to extremely late times, allow us to model their optical spectra and derive the physical parameters of the long-lasting photosphere. We present an extensive spectral timeseries, including 21 new spectra, of SN Iax 2014dt from +11 to +562 days after maximum light. We are able to reproduce the entire timeseries with a self-consistent, nearly unaltered deflagration explosion model from Fink et al. usingTARDIS, an open source radiative-transfer code. We find that the photospheric velocity of SN 2014dt slows its evolution between +64 and +148 days, which closely overlaps the phase when we see SN 2014dt diverge from the normal spectral evolution of SNe Ia (+90 to +150 days). The photospheric velocity at these epochs, ∼400–1000 km s−1, may demarcate a boundary within the ejecta below which the physics of SNe Iax and normal SNe Ia differ. Our results suggest that SN 2014dt is consistent with a weak deflagration explosion model that leaves behind a bound remnant and drives an optically thick, quasi-steady-state wind creating the photospheric lines at late times. The data also suggest that this wind may weaken at epochs past +450 days, perhaps indicating a radioactive power source that has decayed away.

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    The abundance distribution in the ejecta of the peculiar slowly declining Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) SN 1999aa is obtained by modelling a time series of optical spectra. Similar to SN 1991T, SN 1999aa was characterized by early-time spectra dominated by Fe iii features and a weak Si ii 6355 Å line, but it exhibited a high-velocity Ca ii H&K line and morphed into a spectroscopically normal SN Ia earlier. Three explosion models are investigated, yielding comparable fits. The innermost layers are dominated by ∼0.3 M⊙ of neutron-rich stable iron-group elements, mostly stable iron. Above that central region lies a 56Ni-dominated shell, extending to $v \approx 11\, 000$–$12\, 000$ km s−1, with mass ∼0.65 M⊙. These inner layers are therefore similar to those of normal SNe Ia. However, the outer layers exhibit composition peculiarities similar to those of SN 1991T: The intermediate-mass elements shell is very thin, containing only ∼0.2 M⊙, and is sharply separated from an outer oxygen-dominated shell, which includes ∼0.22 M⊙. These results imply that burning suddenly stopped in SN 1999aa. This is a feature SN 1999aa shares with SN 1991T, and explains the peculiarities of both SNe, which are quite similar in nature apart from the different luminosities. The spectroscopic path from normal to SN 1991T-like SNe Ia cannot be explained solely by a temperature sequence. It also involves composition layering differences, suggesting variations in the progenitor density structure or in the explosion parameters.

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