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SN 2008am: A Super-luminous Type IIn Supernova

Chatzopoulos, E. and Wheeler, J. Craig and Vinko, J. and Quimby, R. and Robinson, E. L. and Miller, A. A. and Foley, R. J. and Perley, D. A. and Yuan, F. and Akerlof, C. and Bloom, J. S. (2011) SN 2008am: A Super-luminous Type IIn Supernova. Astrophysical Journal, 729 (2). Art. No. 143. ISSN 0004-637X.

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We present observations and interpretation of the Type IIn supernova SN 2008am discovered by the ROTSE Supernova Verification Project (RSVP). SN 2008am peaked at approximately -22.3 mag at a redshift of z = 0.2338, giving it a peak luminosity of similar to 3 x 10^(44) erg s^(-1) and making it one of the most luminous supernovae ever observed. The total radiated energy is ≃2 x 10^(51) erg. The host galaxy appears to be an SB1 of normal luminosity (M_(r')~ -20) with metallicity Z ~0.4Z_⊙. ROTSE upper limits and detections constrain the rise time to be similar to 34 days in the rest frame, significantly shorter than similar events, SN 2006gy and SN 2006tf. Photometric observations in the ultraviolet, optical, and infrared bands (J, H, K-s) constrain the spectral energy distribution evolution. We obtained six optical spectra of the supernova, five on the early decline from maximum light and a sixth nearly a year later plus a very late time spectrum (≃2 yr) of the host galaxy. The spectra show no evidence for broad supernova photospheric features in either absorption or emission at any phase. The spectra of SN 2008am show strong Balmer-line and He I λ5876 emission with intermediate widths (≃25 Å) in the first ~40 days after optical maximum. The width formally corresponds to a velocity of ~1000 km s^(-1). We examine a variety of models for the line wings and conclude that multiple scattering is most likely, implying that our spectra contain no specific information on the bulk flow velocity. We examine a variety of models for the ROTSE light curve subject to the rise time and the nature of the spectra, including radioactive decay, shocks in optically thick and optically thin circumstellar media (CSMs) and a magnetar. The most successful model is one for which the CSM is optically thick and in which diffusion of forward shock-deposited luminosity gives rise to the observed light curve. The model suggests strong mass loss and a greater contribution from the interaction of the forward shock with optically thick CSM than from the reverse shock. Diffusion of the shock-deposited energy from the forward shock is found to be important in accounting for the rising part of the light curve. Although there are differences in detail, SN 2008am appears to be closely related to other super-luminous Type IIn supernovae, SN 2006gy, SN 2006tf, and perhaps SN 2008iy, that may represent the deaths of very massive luminous-blue-variable-type progenitors and for which the luminosity is powered by the interaction of the ejecta with a dense CSM.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Quimby, R.0000-0001-9171-5236
Miller, A. A.0000-0001-9515-478X
Perley, D. A.0000-0001-8472-1996
Bloom, J. S.0000-0002-7777-216X
Additional Information:© 2011 American Astronomical Society. Received 2010 March 3; accepted 2011 January 18; published 2011 February 22. We are grateful to the anonymous referee for valuable guidance on style and science, and to Andy Howell and Milos Milosavljevic for useful discussions. This research is supported in part by NSF Grant AST-0707669 and by the Texas Advanced Research Program grant ASTRO-ARP-0094. E.C. thanks the Propondis foundation of Piraeus, Greece for its support of his studies. J.V. received support from Hungarian OTKA Grant K76816.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Texas Advanced Research ProgramASTRO-ARP-0094
Propondis Foundation of PiraeusUNSPECIFIED
Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA)K76816
Subject Keywords:circumstellar matter; hydrodynamics; stars: evolution; supernovae: general; supernovae: individual (SN 2008am)
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:PACS: 97.60.Bw; 95.30.Ky; 97.10.Fy; 95.30.Lz; 97.10.Ri
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110413-081502356
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:SN 2008am: A Super-luminous Type IIn Supernova E. Chatzopoulos, J. Craig Wheeler, J. Vinko, R. Quimby, E. L. Robinson, A. A. Miller, R. J. Foley, D. A. Perley, F. Yuan, C. Akerlof and J. S. Bloom doi: 10.1088/0004-637X/729/2/143
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:23298
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:13 Apr 2011 20:02
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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