Zooming In on the Progenitors of Superluminous Supernovae With the HST

R. Lunnan*, R. Chornock, E. Berger, A. Rest, W. Fong, D. Scolnic, D. O. Jones, A. M. Soderberg, P. M. Challis, M. R. Drout, R. J. Foley, M. E. Huber, R. P. Kirshner, C. Leibler, G. H. Marion, M. McCrum, D. Milisavljevic, G. Narayan, N. E. Sanders, S. J. SmarttK. W. Smith, J. L. Tonry, W. S. Burgett, K. C. Chambers, H. Flewelling, R. -P. Kudritzki, R. J. Wainscoat, C. Waters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

We present Hubble Space Telescope (HST) rest-frame ultraviolet imaging of the host galaxies of 16 hydrogen-poor superluminous supernovae (SLSNe), including 11 events from the Pan-STARRS Medium Deep Survey. Taking advantage of the superb angular resolution of HST, we characterize the galaxies' morphological properties, sizes, and star formation rate (SFR) densities. We determine the supernova (SN) locations within the host galaxies through precise astrometric matching and measure physical and host-normalized offsets as well as the SN positions within the cumulative distribution of UV light pixel brightness. We find that the host galaxies of H-poor SLSNe are irregular, compact dwarf galaxies, with a median half-light radius of just 0.9 kpc. The UV-derived SFR densities are high ([Sigma(SFR)] similar or equal to 0.1M(circle dot) yr(-1) kpc(-1)), suggesting that SLSNe form in overdense environments. Their locations trace the UV light of their host galaxies, with a distribution intermediate between that of long-duration gamma-ray bursts (LGRBs; which are strongly clustered on the brightest regions of their hosts) and a uniform distribution (characteristic of normal core-collapse SNe), though cannot be statistically distinguished from either with the current sample size. Taken together, this strengthens the picture that SLSN progenitors require different conditions than those of ordinary core-collapse SNe to form and that they explode in broadly similar galaxies as do LGRBs. If the tendency for SLSNe to be less clustered on the brightest regions than are LGRBs is confirmed by a larger sample, this would indicate a different, potentially lower-mass progenitor for SLSNe than LRGBs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
Number of pages11
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Volume804
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2015

Keywords

  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: star formation
  • supernovae: general
  • CORE-COLLAPSE SUPERNOVAE
  • GAMMA-RAY BURSTS
  • PAIR-INSTABILITY SUPERNOVAE
  • HUBBLE-SPACE-TELESCOPE
  • HOST GALAXIES
  • LIGHT CURVES
  • LUMINOUS SUPERNOVAE
  • IC SUPERNOVAE
  • IIN SUPERNOVA
  • ULTRALUMINOUS SUPERNOVAE

Cite this

Lunnan, R., Chornock, R., Berger, E., Rest, A., Fong, W., Scolnic, D., Jones, D. O., Soderberg, A. M., Challis, P. M., Drout, M. R., Foley, R. J., Huber, M. E., Kirshner, R. P., Leibler, C., Marion, G. H., McCrum, M., Milisavljevic, D., Narayan, G., Sanders, N. E., ... Waters, C. (2015). Zooming In on the Progenitors of Superluminous Supernovae With the HST. The Astrophysical Journal, 804(2), [90]. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/804/2/90