Mass limits for the progenitor star of supernova 2001du and other Type II-P supernovae

Stephen Smartt, Justyn Maund, G.F. Gilmore, C.A. Tout, D. Kilkenny, S. Benetti

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46 Citations (Scopus)


The supernova SN 2001du was discovered in the galaxy NGC 1365 at a distance of 19 +/- 2 Mpc, and is a core-collapse event of Type II-P. Images of this galaxy, of moderate depth, have been taken with the Hubble Space Telescope approximately 6.6 yr before discovery and include the supernova position on the WFPC2 field of view. We have observed the supernova with the WFPC2 to allow accurate differential astrometry of SN 2001du on the pre-explosion frames. As a core-collapse event it is expected that the progenitor was a massive, luminous star. There is a marginal detection (3sigma) of a source close to the supernova position on the pre-discovery V -band frame, but it is not precisely coincident and we do not believe it to be a robust detection of a point source. We conclude that there is no stellar progenitor at the supernova position and derive sensitivity limits of the pre-discovery images that provide an upper mass limit for the progenitor star. We estimate that the progenitor had a mass of less than 15 M-circle dot . We revisit two other nearby Type II-P supernovae that have high-quality pre-explosion images, and refine the upper mass limits for the progenitor stars. Using a new distance determination for SN 1999gi from the expanding photosphere method, we revise the upper mass limit to 12 M-circle dot . We present new HST images of the site of SN 1999em, which validate the use of lower spatial resolution ground-based images in the progenitor studies and use a new Cepheid distance to the galaxy to measure an upper mass limit of 15 M-circle dot for that progenitor. Finally we compile all the direct information available for the progenitors of eight nearby core-collapse supernovae and compare their mass estimates. These are compared with the latest stellar evolutionary models of pre-supernova evolution which have attempted to relate metallicity and mass to the supernovae type. Although this is statistically limited at present, reasonable agreement is already found for the lower-mass events (generally the II-P), but some discrepancies appear at higher masses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-749
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science


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