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  1. ABSTRACT We present observations of SN 2020fqv, a Virgo-cluster type II core-collapse supernova (CCSN) with a high temporal resolution light curve from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) covering the time of explosion; ultraviolet (UV) spectroscopy from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) starting 3.3 d post-explosion; ground-based spectroscopic observations starting 1.1 d post-explosion; along with extensive photometric observations. Massive stars have complicated mass-loss histories leading up to their death as CCSNe, creating circumstellar medium (CSM) with which the SNe interact. Observations during the first few days post-explosion can provide important information about the mass-loss rate during the late stages of stellar evolution. Model fits to the quasi-bolometric light curve of SN 2020fqv reveal  0.23 M⊙ of CSM confined within  1450 R⊙ (1014 cm) from its progenitor star. Early spectra (<4 d post-explosion), both from HST and ground-based observatories, show emission features from high-ionization metal species from the outer, optically thin part of this CSM. We find that the CSM is consistent with an eruption caused by the injection of ∼5 × 1046 erg into the stellar envelope ∼300 d pre-explosion, potentially from a nuclear burning instability at the onset of oxygen burning. Light-curve fitting, nebular spectroscopy, and pre-explosion HST imaging consistently point to a red supergiant (RSG)more »progenitor with $M_{\rm ZAMS}\approx 13.5\!-\!15 \, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$, typical for SN II progenitor stars. This finding demonstrates that a typical RSG, like the progenitor of SN 2020fqv, has a complicated mass-loss history immediately before core collapse.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 30, 2023
  2. Abstract We present photometric and spectroscopic observations of Supernova 2020oi (SN 2020oi), a nearby (∼17 Mpc) type-Ic supernova (SN Ic) within the grand-design spiral M100. We undertake a comprehensive analysis to characterize the evolution of SN 2020oi and constrain its progenitor system. We detect flux in excess of the fireball rise model δ t ≈ 2.5 days from the date of explosion in multiband optical and UV photometry from the Las Cumbres Observatory and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, respectively. The derived SN bolometric luminosity is consistent with an explosion with M ej = 0.81 ± 0.03 M ⊙ , E k = 0.79 ± 0.09 × 10 51 erg s −1 , and M Ni56 = 0.08 ± 0.02 M ⊙ . Inspection of the event’s decline reveals the highest Δ m 15,bol reported for a stripped-envelope event to date. Modeling of optical spectra near event peak indicates a partially mixed ejecta comparable in composition to the ejecta observed in SN 1994I, while the earliest spectrum shows signatures of a possible interaction with material of a distinct composition surrounding the SN progenitor. Further, Hubble Space Telescope pre-explosion imaging reveals a stellar cluster coincident with the event. From the clustermore »photometry, we derive the mass and age of the SN progenitor using stellar evolution models implemented in the BPASS library. Our results indicate that SN 2020oi occurred in a binary system from a progenitor of mass M ZAMS ≈ 9.5 ± 1.0 M ⊙ , corresponding to an age of 27 ± 7 Myr. SN 2020oi is the dimmest SN Ic event to date for which an early-time flux excess has been observed, and the first in which an early excess is unlikely to be associated with shock cooling.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Early in their lives, planets endure extreme amounts of ionizing radiation from their host stars. For planets with primordial hydrogen and helium-rich envelopes, this can lead to substantial mass loss. Direct observations of atmospheric escape in young planetary systems can help elucidate this critical stage of planetary evolution. In this work, we search for metastable helium absorption—a tracer of tenuous gas in escaping atmospheres—during transits of three planets orbiting the young solar analog V1298 Tau. We characterize the stellar helium line using HET/HPF, and find that it evolves substantially on timescales of days to months. The line is stable on hour-long timescales except for one set of spectra taken during the decay phase of a stellar flare, where absoprtion increased with time. Utilizing a beam-shaping diffuser and a narrowband filter centered on the helium feature, we observe four transits with Palomar/WIRC: two partial transits of planet d ( P = 12.4 days), one partial transit of planet b ( P = 24.1 days), and one full transit of planet c ( P = 8.2 days). We do not detect the transit of planet c, and we find no evidence of excess absorption for planet b, with Δ R bmore »/ R ⋆ < 0.019 in our bandpass. We find a tentative absorption signal for planet d with Δ R d / R ⋆ = 0.0205 ± 0.054, but the best-fit model requires a substantial (−100 ± 14 minutes) transit-timing offset on a two-month timescale. Nevertheless, our data suggest that V1298 Tau d may have a high present-day mass-loss rate, making it a priority target for follow-up observations.« less
  4. We present optical and infrared (IR) light curves of the enshrouded massive binary NaSt1 (WR 122) with observations from Palomar Gattini-IR (PGIR), the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT), and the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN). The optical and IR light curves span between 2014 July and 2020 Oct., revealing periodic, sinusoidal variability from NaSt1 with a P=305.2±1.0 d period. We also present historical IR light curves taken between 1983 July and 1989 May that also indicate NaSt1 exhibits long-term IR variability on timescales of ∼decades. Fixed-period sinusoidal fits to the recent optical and IR light curves show that amplitude of NaSt1's variability is different at different wavelengths and also reveal significant phase offsets of ∼18 d between the ZTF r and PGIR J light curves.We interpret the ∼300 d period of the observed variability as the orbital period of a binary system in NaSt1. Assuming a circular orbit and adopting a range of combined stellar mass values in the range 20-100 M⊙ in NaSt1, we estimate orbital separations of ∼2-4 au. We suggest that the sinusoidal photometric variability of NaSt1 may arise from variations in the line-of-sight optical depth toward circumstellar optical/IR emitting regionsmore »throughout its orbit due to colliding-wind dust formation. We provide an interpretation on the nature of NaSt1 and speculate that the mass-transfer process may have been triggered by Roche-lobe overflow (RLOF) during an eruptive phase of a Ofpe/WN9 star. Lastly, we claim that NaSt1 ceased RLOF mass transfer ≲3400 yr ago.« less
  5. Abstract The nova rate in the Milky Way remains largely uncertain, despite its vital importance in constraining models of Galactic chemical evolution as well as understanding progenitor channels for Type Ia supernovae. The rate has been previously estimated to be in the range of ≈10–300 yr −1 , either based on extrapolations from a handful of very bright optical novae or the nova rates in nearby galaxies; both methods are subject to debatable assumptions. The total discovery rate of optical novae remains much smaller (≈5–10 yr −1 ) than these estimates, even with the advent of all-sky optical time-domain surveys. Here, we present a systematic sample of 12 spectroscopically confirmed Galactic novae detected in the first 17 months of Palomar Gattini-IR (PGIR), a wide-field near-infrared time-domain survey. Operating in the J band (≈1.2 μ m), which is significantly less affected by dust extinction compared to optical bands, the extinction distribution of the PGIR sample is highly skewed to a large extinction values (>50% of events obscured by A V ≳ 5 mag). Using recent estimates for the distribution of Galactic mass and dust, we show that the extinction distribution of the PGIR sample is commensurate with dust models. The PGIRmore »extinction distribution is inconsistent with that reported in previous optical searches (null-hypothesis probability <0.01%), suggesting that a large population of highly obscured novae have been systematically missed in previous optical searches. We perform the first quantitative simulation of a 3 π time-domain survey to estimate the Galactic nova rate using PGIR, and derive a rate of ≈ 43.7 − 8.7 + 19.5 yr −1 . Our results suggest that all-sky near-infrared time-domain surveys are well poised to uncover the Galactic nova population.« less
  6. Abstract We present optical follow-up imaging obtained with the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Nickel Telescope, Swope Telescope, and Thacher Telescope of the LIGO/Virgo gravitational wave (GW) signal from the neutron star–black hole (NSBH) merger GW190814. We searched the GW190814 localization region (19 deg 2 for the 90th percentile best localization), covering a total of 51 deg 2 and 94.6% of the two-dimensional localization region. Analyzing the properties of 189 transients that we consider as candidate counterparts to the NSBH merger, including their localizations, discovery times from merger, optical spectra, likely host galaxy redshifts, and photometric evolution, we conclude that none of these objects are likely to be associated with GW190814. Based on this finding, we consider the likely optical properties of an electromagnetic counterpart to GW190814, including possible kilonovae and short gamma-ray burst afterglows. Using the joint limits from our follow-up imaging, we conclude that a counterpart with an r -band decline rate of 0.68 mag day −1 , similar to the kilonova AT 2017gfo, could peak at an absolute magnitude of at most −17.8 mag (50% confidence). Our data are not constraining for “red” kilonovae and rule out “blue” kilonovae with M >more »0.5 M ⊙ (30% confidence). We strongly rule out all known types of short gamma-ray burst afterglows with viewing angles <17° assuming an initial jet opening angle of ∼5.°2 and explosion energies and circumburst densities similar to afterglows explored in the literature. Finally, we explore the possibility that GW190814 merged in the disk of an active galactic nucleus, of which we find four in the localization region, but we do not find any candidate counterparts among these sources.« less