The death of massive stars - II. Observational constraints on the progenitors of Type Ibc supernovae

John J. Eldridge, Morgan Fraser, Stephen J. Smartt, Justyn R. Maund, R. Mark Crockett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Citations (Scopus)


The progenitors of many Type II core-collapse supernovae (SNe) have now been identified directly on pre-discovery imaging. Here, we present an extensive search for the progenitors of Type Ibc SNe in all available pre-discovery imaging since 1998. There are 12 Type Ibc SNe with no detections of progenitors in either deep ground-based or Hubble Space Telescope archival imaging. The deepest absolute BVR magnitude limits are between -4 and - 5 mag. We compare these limits with the observed Wolf-Rayet population in the Large Magellanic Cloud and estimate a 16 per cent probability that we have failed to detect such a progenitor by chance. Alternatively, the progenitors evolve significantly before core-collapse or we have underestimated the extinction towards the progenitors. Reviewing the relative rates and ejecta mass estimates from light-curve modelling of Ibc SNe, we find both incompatible with Wolf-Rayet stars with initial masses >25 M⊙ being the only progenitors. We present binary evolution models that fit these observational constraints. Stars in binaries with initial masses ≲ 20 M⊙ lose their hydrogen envelopes in binary interactions to become low-mass helium stars. They retain a low-mass hydrogen envelope until ≈104 yr before core-collapse; hence, it is not surprising that Galactic analogues have been difficult to identify.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-795
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2013


  • binaries: general
  • stars: evolution
  • supergiants
  • supernovae: general
  • stars: Wolf-Rayet


Dive into the research topics of 'The death of massive stars - II. Observational constraints on the progenitors of Type Ibc supernovae'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this