Super-luminous supernovae have a tendency to occur in faint host galaxies which are likely to have low mass and low metallicity. While these extremely luminous explosions have been observed from z=0.1 to 1.55, the closest explosions allow more detailed investigations of their host galaxies. We present a detailed analysis of the host galaxy of SN 2010gx (z=0.23), one of the best studied super-luminous type Ic supernovae. The host is a dwarf galaxy (M_g=-17.42+/-0.17) with a high specific star formation rate. It has a remarkably low metallicity of 12+log(O/H)=7.5+/-0.1 dex as determined from the detection of the [OIII] 4363 Angs line. This is the first reliable metallicity determination of a super-luminous stripped-envelope supernova host. We collected deep multi-epoch imaging with Gemini + GMOS between 240-560 days after explosion to search for any sign of radioactive nickel-56, which might provide further insights on the explosion mechanism and the progenitor's nature. We reach griz magnitudes of m_AB~26, but do not detect SN 2010gx at these epochs. The limit implies that any nickel-56 production was similar to or below that of SN 1998bw (a luminous type Ic SN that produced around 0.4 M_sun of nickel-56). The low volumetric rates of these supernovae (~10^-4 of the core-collapse population) could be qualitatively matched if the explosion mechanism requires a combination of low-metallicity (below 0.2 Z_sun), high progenitor mass (>60 M_sun) and high rotation rate (fastest 10% of rotators).
Bibliographical note6 pages, 3 figures, 2 tables. Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science
- Astronomy and Astrophysics