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SPIRITS: Uncovering Unusual Infrared Transients with Spitzer

Kasliwal, Mansi M. and Masci, Frank and Jencson, Jacob E. and Tinyanont, Samaporn and Cao, Yi and Armus, Lee and Cook, David O. and Helou, George and Lau, Ryan M. and Moore, Anna and O'Sullivan, Donal and Perez, Andres and Prince, Thomas A. and Van Dyk, Schuyler D. (2017) SPIRITS: Uncovering Unusual Infrared Transients with Spitzer. Astrophysical Journal, 839 (2). Art. No. 88. ISSN 1538-4357. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aa6978.

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We present an ongoing, five-year systematic search for extragalactic infrared transients, dubbed SPIRITS—SPitzer InfraRed Intensive Transients Survey. In the first year, using Spitzer/IRAC, we searched 190 nearby galaxies with cadence baselines of one month and six months. We discovered over 1958 variables and 43 transients. Here, we describe the survey design and highlight 14 unusual infrared transients with no optical counterparts to deep limits, which we refer to as SPRITEs (eSPecially Red Intermediate-luminosity Transient Events). SPRITEs are in the infrared luminosity gap between novae and supernovae, with [4.5] absolute magnitudes between −11 and −14 (Vega-mag) and [3.6]–[4.5] colors between 0.3 mag and 1.6 mag. The photometric evolution of SPRITEs is diverse, ranging from <0.1 mag yr^(−1) to >7 mag yr^(−1). SPRITEs occur in star-forming galaxies. We present an in-depth study of one of them, SPIRITS 14ajc in Messier 83, which shows shock-excited molecular hydrogen emission. This shock may have been triggered by the dynamic decay of a non-hierarchical system of massive stars that led to either the formation of a binary or a protostellar merger.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Kasliwal, Mansi M.0000-0002-5619-4938
Masci, Frank0000-0002-8532-9395
Jencson, Jacob E.0000-0001-5754-4007
Tinyanont, Samaporn0000-0002-1481-4676
Cao, Yi0000-0002-8036-8491
Armus, Lee0000-0003-3498-2973
Cook, David O.0000-0002-6877-7655
Helou, George0000-0003-3367-3415
Moore, Anna0000-0002-2894-6936
O'Sullivan, Donal0000-0002-4959-9179
Prince, Thomas A.0000-0002-8850-3627
Van Dyk, Schuyler D.0000-0001-9038-9950
Additional Information:© 2017 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2016 July 18; revised 2017 March 23; accepted 2017 March 23; published 2017 April 19. We thank O. Pejcha, E. Lovegrove, S. Woosley, A.L. Piro, E.S. Phinney, S.R. Kulkarni, L. Bildsten, and E. Quataert for valuable discussions. We thank the anonymous referee for constructive suggestions that improved this manuscript. This work is based on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. The SPIRITS team acknowledges generous support from the NASA Spitzer grants for SPIRITS. M.M.K. thanks the National Science Foundation for a PIRE Grant No. 1545949 for the GROWTH project. J.J. acknowledges the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. DGE-1144469. P.A.W. and S.M. are grateful to the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) for a research grant. R.D.G. and the MLOF group were supported, in part, by the United States Air Force. H.E.B. acknowledges support by NASA through grant GO-13935 from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1144469
South African National Research FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:infrared: general – novae, cataclysmic variables – stars: AGB and post-AGB – stars: mass-loss – supernovae: general – surveys
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170419-090643097
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Official Citation:Mansi M. Kasliwal et al 2017 ApJ 839 88
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:76663
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:19 Apr 2017 16:20
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:01

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