On the diversity of superluminous supernovae: ejected mass as the dominant factor

M. Nicholl, S. J. Smartt, A. Jerkstrand, C. Inserra, S. A. Sim, T.-W. Chen, S. Benetti, M. Fraser, A. Gal-Yam, E. Kankare, K. Maguire, K. Smith, M. Sullivan, S. Valenti, D. R. Young, C. Baltay, F. E. Bauer, S. Baumont, D. Bersier, M.-T. BotticellaM. Childress, M. Dennefeld, M. Della Valle, N. Elias-Rosa, U. Feindt, L. Galbany, E. Hadjiyska, L. Le Guillou, G. Leloudas, P. Mazzali, R. McKinnon, J. Polshaw, D. Rabinowitz, S. Rostami, R. Scalzo, B. P. Schmidt, S. Schulze, J. Sollerman, F. Taddia, F. Yuan

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We assemble a sample of 24 hydrogen-poor superluminous supernovae(SLSNe). Parameterizing the light-curve shape through rise and declinetime-scales shows that the two are highly correlated. Magnetar-poweredmodels can reproduce the correlation, with the diversity in rise anddecline rates driven by the diffusion time-scale. Circumstellarinteraction models can exhibit a similar rise-decline relation, but onlyfor a narrow range of densities, which may be problematic for thesemodels. We find that SLSNe are approximately 3.5 mag brighter and havelight curves three times broader than SNe Ibc, but that the intrinsicshapes are similar. There are a number of SLSNe with particularly broadlight curves, possibly indicating two progenitor channels, butstatistical tests do not cleanly separate two populations. The generalspectral evolution is also presented. Velocities measured from Fe II aresimilar for SLSNe and SNe Ibc, suggesting that diffusion timedifferences are dominated by mass or opacity. Flat velocity evolution inmost SLSNe suggests a dense shell of ejecta. If opacities in SLSNe aresimilar to other SNe Ibc, the average ejected mass is higher by a factor2-3. Assuming κ = 0.1 cm2 g-1, we estimate amean (median) SLSN ejecta mass of 10 M⊙ (6M⊙), with a range of 3-30 M⊙. Doubling theassumed opacity brings the masses closer to normal SNe Ibc, but with ahigh-mass tail. The most probable mechanism for generating SLSNe seemsto be the core collapse of a very massive hydrogen-poor star, forming amillisecond magnetar.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3869-3893
Number of pages25
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date07 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2015


  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual: LSQ14bdq
  • supernovae: individual: LSQ14mo
  • supernovae: individual: SN 2013hx


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