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  1. Abstract We present Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging of the site of SN 2015bh in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 2770 taken between 2017 and 2019, nearly four years after the peak of the explosion. In 2017–2018, the transient fades steadily in optical filters before declining more slowly to F814W = −7.1 mag in 2019, ≈4 mag below the level of its eruptive luminous blue variable (LBV) progenitor observed with HST in 2008–2009. The source fades at a constant color of F555W − F814W = 0.4 mag until 2018, similar to SN 2009ip and consistent with a spectrum dominated by interaction of the ejecta with circumstellar material (CSM). A deep optical spectrum obtained in 2021 lacks signatures of ongoing interaction ( L H α ≲ 10 38 erg s −1 for broadened emission ≲2000 km s −1 ), but indicates the presence of a nearby H ii region (≲300 pc). The color evolution of the fading source makes it unlikely that emission from a scattered-light echo or binary OB companion of the progenitor contributes significantly to the flattening of the late-time light curve. The remaining emission in 2019 may plausibly be attributed an evolved/inflated companion or an unresolved (≲3 pc),more »young stellar cluster. Importantly, the color evolution of SN 2015bh rules out scenarios in which the surviving progenitor is obscured by nascent dust and does not clearly indicate a transition to a hotter, optically faint state. The simplest explanation is that the massive progenitor did not survive. SN 2015bh likely represents a remarkable example of the terminal explosion of a massive star preceded by decades of end-stage eruptive variability.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  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. Abstract A thermonuclear explosion triggered by a He-shell detonation on a carbon–oxygen white-dwarf core has been predicted to have strong UV line blanketing at early times due to the iron-group elements produced during He-shell burning. We present the photometric and spectroscopic observations of SN 2016dsg, a subluminous peculiar Type I supernova consistent with a thermonuclear explosion involving a thick He shell. With a redshift of 0.04, the i -band peak absolute magnitude is derived to be around −17.5. The object is located far away from its host, an early-type galaxy, suggesting it originated from an old stellar population. The spectra collected after the peak are unusually red, show strong UV line blanketing and weak O i λ 7773 absorption lines, and do not evolve significantly over 30 days. An absorption line around 9700–10500 Å is detected in the near-infrared spectrum and is likely from the unburnt He in the ejecta. The spectroscopic evolution is consistent with the thermonuclear explosion models for a sub-Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf with a thick He shell, while the photometric evolution is not well described by existing models.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 28, 2023
  4. 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
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  6. Abstract We present the discovery of an exceptional dimming event in a cool supergiant star in the Local Volume spiral M51. The star, dubbed M51-DS1, was found as part of a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) search for failed supernovae (SNe). The supergiant, which is plausibly associated with a very young (≲6 Myr) stellar population, showed clear variability (amplitude Δ F 814 W ≈ 0.7 mag) in numerous HST images obtained between 1995 and 2016, before suddenly dimming by >2 mag in F 814 W sometime between late 2017 and mid-2019. In follow-up data from 2021, the star rebrightened, ruling out a failed supernova. Prior to its near-disappearance, the star was luminous and red ( M F 814 W ≲ − 7.6 mag, F 606 W − F 814 W = 1.9–2.2 mag). Modeling of the pre-dimming spectral energy distribution of the star favors a highly reddened, very luminous ( log [ L / L ⊙ ] = 5.4 –5.7) star with T eff ≈ 3700–4700 K, indicative of a cool yellow or post-red supergiant (RSG) with an initial mass of ≈26–40 M ⊙ . However, the local interstellar extinction and circumstellar extinction are uncertain, and could be lower: the near-IRmore »colors are consistent with an RSG, which would be cooler ( T eff ≲ 3700 K) and slightly less luminous ( log [ L / L ⊙ ] = 5.2 –5.3), giving an inferred initial mass of ≈19–22 M ⊙ . In either case, the dimming may be explained by a rare episode of enhanced mass loss that temporarily obscures the star, potentially a more extreme counterpart to the 2019–2020 “Great Dimming” of Betelgeuse. Given the emerging evidence that massive evolved stars commonly exhibit variability that can mimic a disappearing star, our work highlights a substantial challenge in identifying true failed SNe.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  7. ABSTRACT The observed diversity in Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) – the thermonuclear explosions of carbon–oxygen white dwarf stars used as cosmological standard candles – is currently met with a variety of explosion models and progenitor scenarios. To help improve our understanding of whether and how often different models contribute to the occurrence of SNe Ia and their assorted properties, we present a comprehensive analysis of seven nearby SNe Ia. We obtained one to two epochs of optical spectra with Gemini Observatory during the nebular phase (>200 d past peak) for each of these events, all of which had time series of photometry and spectroscopy at early times (the first ∼8 weeks after explosion). We use the combination of early- and late-time observations to assess the predictions of various models for the explosion (e.g. double-detonation, off-centre detonation, stellar collisions), progenitor star (e.g. ejecta mass, metallicity), and binary companion (e.g. another white dwarf or a non-degenerate star). Overall, we find general consistency in our observations with spherically symmetric models for SN Ia explosions, and with scenarios in which the binary companion is another degenerate star. We also present an in-depth analysis of SN 2017fzw, a member of the subgroup of SNe Ia which appear to be transitional betweenmore »the subluminous ‘91bg-like’ events and normal SNe Ia, and for which nebular-phase spectra are rare.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 22, 2023
  8. Abstract We present 75 near-infrared (NIR; 0.8−2.5 μ m) spectra of 34 stripped-envelope core-collapse supernovae (SESNe) obtained by the Carnegie Supernova Project-II (CSP-II), encompassing optical spectroscopic Types IIb, Ib, Ic, and Ic-BL. The spectra range in phase from pre-maximum to 80 days past maximum. This unique data set constitutes the largest NIR spectroscopic sample of SESNe to date. NIR spectroscopy provides observables with additional information that is not available in the optical. Specifically, the NIR contains the strong lines of He i and allows a more detailed look at whether Type Ic supernovae are completely stripped of their outer He layer. The NIR spectra of SESNe have broad similarities, but closer examination through statistical means reveals a strong dichotomy between NIR “He-rich” and “He-poor” SNe. These NIR subgroups correspond almost perfectly to the optical IIb/Ib and Ic/Ic-BL types, respectively. The largest difference between the two groups is observed in the 2 μ m region, near the He i λ 2.0581 μ m line. The division between the two groups is not an arbitrary one along a continuous sequence. Early spectra of He-rich SESNe show much stronger He i λ 2.0581 μ m absorption compared to the He-poor group, but withmore »a wide range of profile shapes. The same line also provides evidence for trace amounts of He in half of our SNe in the He-poor group.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  9. We present the bolometric lightcurve, identification and analysis of the progenitor candidate, and preliminary modelling of AT 2016jbu (Gaia16cfr). We find a progenitor consistent with a ∼ 22–25 M⊙ yellow hypergiant surrounded by a dusty circumstellar shell, in agreement with what has been previously reported. We see evidence for significant photometric variability in the progenitor, as well as strong Hα emission consistent with pre-existing circumstellar material. The age of the environment as well as the resolved stellar population surrounding AT 2016jbu, support a progenitor age of >10 Myr, consistent with a progenitor mass of ∼22 M⊙. A joint analysis of the velocity evolution of AT 2016jbu, and the photospheric radius inferred from the bolometric lightcurve shows the transient is consistent with two successive outbursts/explosions. The first outburst ejected material with velocity ∼650 km s−1, while the second, more energetic event, ejected material at ∼4500 km s−1. Whether the latter is the core-collapse of the progenitor remains uncertain. We place a limit on the ejected 56Ni mass of <0.016M⊙. Using the bpass code, we explore a wide range of possible progenitor systems, and find that the majority of these are in binaries, some of which are undergoing mass transfer or common envelope evolution immediately prior to explosion. Finally, we use the snecmore »code to demonstrate that the low-energy explosion within some of these binary systems, together with sufficient CSM, can reproduce the overall morphology of the lightcurve of AT 2016jbu.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  10. We present the results from a high cadence, multi-wavelength observation campaign of AT 2016jbu, (aka Gaia16cfr) an interacting transient. This dataset complements the current literature by adding higher cadence as well as extended coverage of the lightcurve evolution and late-time spectroscopic evolution. Photometric coverage reveals that AT 2016jbuunderwent significant photometric variability followed by two luminous events, the latter of which reached an absolute magnitude of MV ∼ −18.5 mag. This is similar to the transient SN 2009ipwhose nature is still debated. Spectra are dominated by narrow emission lines and show a blue continuum during the peak of the second event. AT 2016jbushows signatures of a complex, non-homogeneous circumstellar material (CSM). We see slowly evolving asymmetric hydrogen line profiles, with velocities of 500 km s−1seen in narrow emission features from a slow moving CSM, and up to 10,000 km s−1seen in broad absorption from some high velocity material. Late-time spectra (∼ +1 year) show a lack of forbidden emission lines expected from a core-collapse supernova and are dominated by strong emission from H, He i and Ca ii. Strong asymmetric emission features, a bumpy lightcurve, and continually evolving spectra suggest an inhibit nebular phase. We compare the evolution of Hα among SN 2009ip-like transients and find possible evidence for orientation angle effects. The light-curvemore »evolution of AT 2016jbusuggests similar, but not identical, circumstellar environments to other SN 2009ip-like transients.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023