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Hubble Space Telescope Imaging of Luminous Extragalactic Infrared Transients and Variables from the Spitzer Infrared Intensive Transients Survey

Bond, Howard E. and Jencson, Jacob E. and Whitelock, Patricia A. and Adams, Scott M. and Bally, John and Cody, Ann Marie and Gehrz, Robert D. and Kasliwal, Mansi M. and Masci, Frank J. (2022) Hubble Space Telescope Imaging of Luminous Extragalactic Infrared Transients and Variables from the Spitzer Infrared Intensive Transients Survey. Astrophysical Journal, 928 (2). Art. No. 158. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac5832.

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The SPitzer InfraRed Intensive Transients Survey (SPIRITS) searched for luminous infrared (IR) transients and variables in nearly 200 nearby galaxies from 2014 to 2019, using the warm Spitzer telescope at 3.6 and 4.5 μm. Among the SPIRITS variables are IR-bright objects that are undetected in ground-based optical surveys. We classify them as (1) transients, (2) periodic variables, and (3) irregular variables. The transients include eSPecially Red Intermediate-luminosity Transient Events (SPRITEs), having maximum luminosities fainter than supernovae, red IR colors, and a wide range of outburst durations (days to years). Here we report deep optical and near-IR imaging with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) of 21 SPIRITS variables. They were initially considered SPRITE transients, but many eventually proved instead to be periodic or irregular variables as more data were collected. HST images show most of these cool and dusty variables are associated with star-forming regions in late-type galaxies, implying an origin in massive stars. Two SPRITEs lacked optical progenitors in deep preoutburst HST images; however, one was detected during eruption at J and H, indicating a dusty object with an effective temperature of ∼1050 K. One faint SPRITE turned out to be a dusty classical nova. About half the HST targets proved to be periodic variables, with pulsation periods of 670–2160 days; they are likely dusty asymptotic-giant-branch (AGB) stars with masses of ∼5–10 M⊙. A few of them were warm enough to be detected in deep HST frames, but most are too cool. Out of six irregular variables, two were red supergiants with optical counterparts in HST images; four were too enshrouded for HST detection.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Bond, Howard E.0000-0003-1377-7145
Jencson, Jacob E.0000-0001-5754-4007
Whitelock, Patricia A.0000-0002-4678-4432
Adams, Scott M.0000-0001-5855-5939
Bally, John0000-0001-8135-6612
Cody, Ann Marie0000-0002-3656-6706
Gehrz, Robert D.0000-0003-1319-4089
Kasliwal, Mansi M.0000-0002-5619-4938
Masci, Frank J.0000-0002-8532-9395
Alternate Title:Hubble Space Telescope Imaging of Luminous Extragalactic Infrared Transients and Variables from the SPIRITS Survey
Additional Information:© 2022 The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 2021 December 9; revised 2022 February 19; accepted 2022 February 22; published 2022 April 6. Support for HST Program numbers GO-13935, GO-14258, and AR-15005 was provided by NASA through grants from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Incorporated, under NASA contract NAS5-26555. Support for this work was also provided by NASA through awards issued by JPL/Caltech. P.A.W. acknowledges a research grant from the South African National Research Foundation and is grateful to John Menzies (SAAO) for the use of his period-finding software. J.B. is supported by NSF grant AST-1910393. R.D.G. was supported in part by the United States Air Force. Some of the data presented in this paper were obtained from the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Our work is also based in part on data obtained from the HLA, which is a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI/NASA), the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF/ESAC/ESA), and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC/NRC/CSA). This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Facilities: HST (ACS - , WFPC2 - , WFC3) - , IRSA - , Spitzer. -
Group:Astronomy Department, Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Research Foundation (South Africa)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Supernovae; Transient sources; Classical novae; Variable stars; Infrared sources; OH/IR stars; Red supergiant stars; Luminous blue variable stars
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Supernovae (1668); Transient sources (1851); Classical novae (251); Variable stars (1761); Infrared sources (793); OH/IR stars (1156); Red supergiant stars (1375); Luminous blue variable stars (944)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220224-200949995
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Howard E. Bond et al 2022 ApJ 928 158
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113608
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:25 Feb 2022 00:20
Last Modified:08 Apr 2022 19:47

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