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A transient radio source consistent with a merger-triggered core collapse supernova

Dong, D. Z. and Hallinan, G. and Nakar, E. and Ho, A. Y. Q. and Hughes, A. K. and Hotokezaka, K. and Myers, S. T. and De, K. and Mooley, K. P. and Ravi, V. and Horesh, A. and Kasliwal, M. M. and Kulkarni, S. R. (2021) A transient radio source consistent with a merger-triggered core collapse supernova. Science, 373 (6559). pp. 1125-1129. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.abg6037.

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A core collapse supernova occurs when exothermic fusion ceases in the core of a massive star, which is typically caused by exhaustion of nuclear fuel. Theory predicts that fusion could be interrupted earlier by merging of the star with a compact binary companion. We report a luminous radio transient, VT J121001+495647, found in the Very Large Array Sky Survey. The radio emission is consistent with supernova ejecta colliding with a dense shell of material, potentially ejected by binary interaction in the centuries before explosion. We associate the supernova with an archival x-ray transient, which implies that a relativistic jet was launched during the explosion. The combination of an early relativistic jet and late-time dense interaction is consistent with expectations for a merger-driven explosion.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemVLASS quicklook images ItemVLA follow-up observations ItemFIRST data ItemKeck observations ItemHubble Space Telescope image ItemCode
Dong, D. Z.0000-0001-9584-2531
Hallinan, G.0000-0002-7083-4049
Nakar, E.0000-0002-4534-7089
Ho, A. Y. Q.0000-0002-9017-3567
Hughes, A. K.0000-0003-0764-0687
Hotokezaka, K.0000-0001-5023-6933
De, K.0000-0002-8989-0542
Mooley, K. P.0000-0002-2557-5180
Ravi, V.0000-0002-7252-5485
Horesh, A.0000-0002-5936-1156
Kasliwal, M. M.0000-0002-5619-4938
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Additional Information:© 2021 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received 15 January 2021; accepted 3 August 2021. We thank the NRAO staff who made the VLASS possible, the VLASS Survey Science Group, J. Fuller and J. Lux for useful discussions, and the reviewers for helpful comments. Our results are based on data from the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, which is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). The NRAO is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities Inc. This research has made use of MAXI data provided by RIKEN, JAXA, and the MAXI team. Some of the data were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Keck Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. We recognize and acknowledge the cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. D.Z.D. and G.H. were supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) grant AST-1654815. G.H., D.Z.D., and A.H. were supported by the United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation (grant 2018154). A.H. also acknowledges support from the I-Core Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and the Israel Science Foundation and ISF grant 647/18. A.Y.Q.H. and K.D. were supported by the GROWTH project funded by the NSF under PIRE grant 1545949. A.K.H. was supported by NSERC Discovery Grants RGPIN-2016-06569 and RGPIN-2021-04001. A.Y.Q.H. was supported by the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at the University of California, Berkeley. K.H. was supported by JSPS Early-Career Scientists grant 20K14513. S.M. was supported by the NRAO. S.R.K. was supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation. Author contributions: G.H., D.Z.D., and K.P.M. designed the transient search strategy. D.Z.D. implemented the transient search pipeline, with help from A.K.H. in visual vetting and A.Y.Q.H. in matching the MAXI transient. D.Z.D., G.H., and S.T.M. obtained the radio and optical follow-up observations with the help of telescope staff at the VLA and Keck. D.Z.D. processed and analyzed the radio data with contributions from S.T.M. D.Z.D. processed and analyzed the optical data and estimated the transient rates. E.N. led the analysis of the x-ray data with help from D.Z.D. D.Z.D. and G.H. wrote the paper with contributions from E.N., K.H., and the remaining authors. The authors declare no competing interests. Data and materials availability: VLASS quicklook images are available at VLA follow-up observations are available from the VLA archive at under project code 19A-422. The FIRST data were taken from The Keck observations are available at with KOAIDs beginning LB.20180413. The Hubble Space Telescope image was taken from the archive under proposal ID 13493. Our analysis and model fitting software code is available at and is archived on Zenodo (38).
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
W. M. Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Binational Science Foundation (USA-Israel)2018154
I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting CommitteeUNSPECIFIED
Israel Science Foundation647/18
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)RGPIN-2016-06569
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)RGPIN-2021-04001
Miller Institute for Basic Research in ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)20K14513
National Radio Astronomy ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
Heising-Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6559
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210914-191505916
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:A transient radio source consistent with a merger-triggered core collapse supernova. D. Z. Dong, G. Hallinan, E. Nakar, A. Y. Q. Ho, A. K. Hughes, K. Hotokezaka, S. T. Myers, K. De, K. P. Mooley, V. Ravi, A. Horesh, M. M. Kasliwal, S. R. Kulkarni. Science, 373 (6559):1125-1129; DOI: 10.1126/science.abg6037
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:110851
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:14 Sep 2021 20:03
Last Modified:14 Sep 2021 20:03

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