We present the discovery of two ultraluminous supernovae (SNe) at z approximate to 0.9 with the Pan-STARRS1 Medium Deep Survey. These SNe, PS1-10ky and PS1-10awh, are among the most luminous SNe ever discovered, comparable to the unusual transients SN 2005ap and SCP 06F6. Like SN 2005ap and SCP 06F6, they show characteristic high luminosities (M-bol approximate to -22.5 mag), blue spectra with a few broad absorption lines, and no evidence for H or He. We have constructed a full multi-color light curve sensitive to the peak of the spectral energy distribution in the rest-frame ultraviolet, and we have obtained time series spectroscopy for these SNe. Given the similarities between the SNe, we combine their light curves to estimate a total radiated energy over the course of explosion of (0.9-1.4) x 10(51) erg. We find photospheric velocities of 12,000-19,000 km s(-1) with no evidence for deceleration measured across similar to 3 rest-frame weeks around light curve peak, consistent with the expansion of an optically thick massive shell of material. We show that, consistent with findings for other ultraluminous SNe in this class, radioactive decay is not sufficient to power PS1-10ky, and we discuss two plausible origins for these events: the initial spin-down of a newborn magnetar in a core-collapse SN, or SN shock breakout from the dense circumstellar wind surrounding a Wolf-Rayet star.
- Space and Planetary Science
- Astronomy and Astrophysics