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  1. Abstract We present high-cadence optical and ultraviolet light curves of the normal Type Ia supernova (SN) 2021aefx, which shows an early bump during the first two days of observation. This bump may be a signature of interaction between the exploding white dwarf and a nondegenerate binary companion, or it may be intrinsic to the white dwarf explosion mechanism. In the case of the former, the short duration of the bump implies a relatively compact main-sequence companion star, although this conclusion is viewing-angle dependent. Our best-fit companion-shocking and double-detonation models both overpredict the UV luminosity during the bump, and existing nickel-shell models do not match the strength and timescale of the bump. We also present nebular spectra of SN 2021aefx, which do not show the hydrogen or helium emission expected from a nondegenerate companion, as well as a radio nondetection that rules out all symbiotic progenitor systems and most accretion disk winds. Our analysis places strong but conflicting constraints on the progenitor of SN 2021aefx; no current model can explain all of our observations.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. ABSTRACT ASASSN-18am/SN 2018gk is a newly discovered member of the rare group of luminous, hydrogen-rich supernovae (SNe) with a peak absolute magnitude of MV ≈ −20 mag that is in between normal core-collapse SNe and superluminous SNe. These SNe show no prominent spectroscopic signatures of ejecta interacting with circumstellar material (CSM), and their powering mechanism is debated. ASASSN-18am declines extremely rapidly for a Type II SN, with a photospheric-phase decline rate of ∼6.0 mag (100 d)−1. Owing to the weakening of H i and the appearance of He i in its later phases, ASASSN-18am is spectroscopically a Type IIb SN with a partially stripped envelope. However, its photometric and spectroscopic evolution shows significant differences from typical SNe IIb. Using a radiative diffusion model, we find that the light curve requires a high synthesized 56Ni mass $M_{\rm Ni} \sim 0.4\, \rm {M_{\odot }}$ and ejecta with high kinetic energy Ekin = (7–10) × 1051 erg. Introducing a magnetar central engine still requires $M_{\rm Ni} \sim 0.3\, \rm {M_{\odot }}$ and Ekin = 3 × 1051 erg. The high 56Ni mass is consistent with strong iron-group nebular lines in its spectra, which are also similar to several SNe Ic-BL with high 56Ni yields. The earliest spectrum shows ‘flash ionization’ features, from which we estimatemore »a mass-loss rate of $\dot{M}\approx 2\times 10^{-4} \, \rm \rm {M_{\odot }}\,yr^{-1}$. This wind density is too low to power the luminous light curve by ejecta–CSM interaction. We measure expansion velocities as high as 17 000 $\rm {\, km\, s^{-1}}$ for Hα, which is remarkably high compared to other SNe II. We estimate an oxygen core mass of 1.8–3.4 M⊙ using the [O i] luminosity measured from a nebular-phase spectrum, implying a progenitor with a zero-age main-sequence mass of 19–26 M⊙.« less