Red and dead: The progenitor of SN 2012aw in M95

M. Fraser, J. R. Maund, S. J. Smartt, M. -T. Botticella, M. Dall'Ora, C. Inserra, L. Tomasella, S. Benetti, S. Ciroi, J. J. Eldridge, M. Ergon, R. Kotak, S. Mattila, P. Ochner, A. Pastorello, E. Reilly, J. Sollerman, A. Stephens, F. Taddia, S. Valenti

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Core-collapse supernovae (SNe) are the spectacular finale to massive stellar evolution. In this Letter, we identify a progenitor for the nearby core-collapse SN 2012aw in both ground based near-infrared, and space based optical pre-explosion imaging. The SN itself appears to be a normal Type II Plateau event, reaching a bolometric luminosity of 10$^{42}$ erg s$^{-1}$ and photospheric velocities of $\sim$11,000 \kms\ from the position of the H$\beta$ P-Cygni minimum in the early SN spectra. We use an adaptive optics image to show that the SN is coincident to within 27 mas with a faint, red source in pre-explosion HST+WFPC2, VLT+ISAAC and NTT+SOFI images. The source has magnitudes $F555W$=26.70$\pm$0.06, $F814W$=23.39$\pm$0.02, $J$=21.1$\pm$0.2, $K$=19.1$\pm$0.4, which when compared to a grid of stellar models best matches a red supergiant. Interestingly, the spectral energy distribution of the progenitor also implies an extinction of $A_V>$1.2 mag, whereas the SN itself does not appear to be significantly extinguished. We interpret this as evidence for the destruction of dust in the SN explosion. The progenitor candidate has a luminosity between 5.0 and 5.6 log L/\lsun, corresponding to a ZAMS mass between 14 and 26 \msun\ (depending on $A_V$), which would make this one of the most massive progenitors found for a core-collapse SN to date.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 06 Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Submitted to ApJ Letters


  • astro-ph.CO
  • astro-ph.SR

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