A Caltech Library Service

Exclusion of a luminous red giant as a companion star to the progenitor of supernova SN 2011fe

Li, Weidong and Ofek, Eran O. and Kasliwal, Mansi M. and Kulkarni, S. R. (2011) Exclusion of a luminous red giant as a companion star to the progenitor of supernova SN 2011fe. Nature, 480 (7377). pp. 348-350. ISSN 0028-0836.

PDF - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Type Ia supernovae are thought to result from a thermonuclear explosion of an accreting white dwarf in a binary system, but little is known of the precise nature of the companion star and the physical properties of the progenitor system. There are two classes of models: double-degenerate (involving two white dwarfs in a close binary system) and single-degenerate models. In the latter, the primary white dwarf accretes material from a secondary companion until conditions are such that carbon ignites, at a mass of 1.38 times the mass of the Sun. The type Ia supernova SN 2011fe was recently detected in a nearby galaxy. Here we report an analysis of archival images of the location of SN 2011fe. The luminosity of the progenitor system (especially the companion star) is 10–100 times fainter than previous limits on other type Ia supernova progenitor systems, allowing us to rule out luminous red giants and almost all helium stars as the mass-donating companion to the exploding white dwarf.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Ofek, Eran O.0000-0002-6786-8774
Kasliwal, Mansi M.0000-0002-5619-4938
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Additional Information:© 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 07 September 2011. Accepted 14 October 2011. Published online 14 December 2011. We thank D. Maoz and S. Starrfield for comments, and the staff of the W. M. Keck Observatory, especially J. Lyke and R. Campbell, for their assistance in obtaining the NIRC adaptive optics imaging. P.P. acknowledges discussions on symbiotic binaries with J. Mikolajewska. M.M.K. acknowledges support by NASA’s Hubble Fellowship and the Carnegie-Princeton Fellowship. J.S.B.’s group was partially supported by NASA. J.S.B., A.V.F., L.B. and S.W.J. acknowledge support from the US National Science Foundation. A.V.F.’s group at UC Berkeley, and the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT) and its ongoing operation, have received financial assistance from NASA, Gary and Cynthia Bengier, the Richard &Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Sylvia and Jim Katzman Foundation, and the TABASGO Foundation. E.O.O. is supported by an Einstein Fellowship from NASA. M.M.S. and J.B. acknowledge the support of Hilary Lipsitz and the American Museum of Natural History for essential funding. M.S. acknowledges support from the Royal Society. Some of the data presented here 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 NASA; the observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. Observations were obtained with the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory as part of the Palomar Transient Factory project, a scientific collaboration between the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, La Cumbres Observatory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, the University of Oxford, and the Weizmann Institute of Science. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, provided staff, computational resources, and data storage for this project. Author Contributions: W.L., J.S.B., S.W.J., C.M. and B.P. analysed the Hubble Space Telescope photometry in the context of progenitor limits. P.P. contributed the analysis of progenitor models. A.A.M., J.W.R. and S.B.C. analysed historical imaging from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) and KAIT in the context of nova limits. M.M.K. and K.J.S. provided the analysis of Spitzer observations. M.M.S. and J.B. provided analysis of the Hubble Space Telescope imaging. M.M.S. also contributed interpretation of the progenitor limits. N.R.B., E.O.O. and L.B. contributed analysis and interpretation of the historical X-ray imaging. D.P., R.M.Q., S.R.K., N.M.L., E.O.O., S.B.C., M.S., D.A.H., J.S.B., P.E.N., M.M.K., L.B. and K.M.were responsible for obtaining, reducing, and analysing the PTF observations. A.S. and H.-Y.S.obtained the Keck adaptive optics imaging and S.B.C. reduced and analysed those images. A.V.F., M.G., W.L. and J.M.S. were responsible for the KAIT imaging and analysis.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Hubble FelllowshipUNSPECIFIED
Carnegie-Princeton FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Gary and Cynthia BengierUNSPECIFIED
Richard and Rhoda Goldman FundUNSPECIFIED
Sylvia and Jim Katzman FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NASA Einstein FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
W. M. Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
American Museum of Natural HistoryUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120105-073059365
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Exclusion of a luminous red giant as a companion star to the progenitor of supernova SN 2011fe Weidong Li, Joshua S. Bloom, Philipp Podsiadlowski, Adam A. Miller, S. Bradley Cenko, Saurabh W. Jha, Mark Sullivan, D. Andrew Howell, Peter E. Nugent, Nathaniel R. Butler, Eran O. Ofek, Mansi M. Kasliwal, Joseph W. Richards, Alan Stockton, Hsin-Yi Shih, Lars Bildsten, Michael M. Shara, Joanne Bibby, Alexei V. Filippenko, Mohan Ganeshalingam, Jeffrey M. Silverman, S. R. Kulkarni, Nicholas M. Law, Dovi Poznanski, Robert M. Quimby, Curtis McCully, Brandon Patel, Kate Maguire & Ken J. Shen Nature 480, 348–350 (15 December 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10646
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:28661
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:05 Jan 2012 15:58
Last Modified:28 Oct 2017 04:02

Repository Staff Only: item control page