A Caltech Library Service

The direct identification of core-collapse supernova progenitors

Van Dyk, Schuyler D. (2017) The direct identification of core-collapse supernova progenitors. Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 375 (2105). Art. No. 20160277. ISSN 1364-503X. PMCID PMC5620491. doi:10.1098/rsta.2016.0277.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


To place core-collapse supernovae (SNe) in context with the evolution of massive stars, it is necessary to determine their stellar origins. I describe the direct identification of SN progenitors in existing pre-explosion images, particularly those obtained through serendipitous imaging of nearby galaxies by the Hubble Space Telescope. I comment on specific cases representing the various core-collapse SN types. Establishing the astrometric coincidence of a SN with its putative progenitor is relatively straightforward. One merely needs a comparably high-resolution image of the SN itself and its stellar environment to perform this matching. The interpretation of these results, though, is far more complicated and fraught with larger uncertainties, including assumptions of the distance to and the extinction of the SN, as well as the metallicity of the SN environment. Furthermore, existing theoretical stellar evolutionary tracks exhibit significant variations one from the next. Nonetheless, it appears fairly certain that Type II-P (plateau) SNe arise from massive stars in the red supergiant phase. Many of the known cases are associated with subluminous Type II-P events. The progenitors of Type II-L (linear) SNe are less established. Among the stripped-envelope SNe, there are now a number of examples of cool, but not red, supergiants (presumably in binaries) as Type IIb progenitors. We appear now finally to have an identified progenitor of a Type Ib SN, but no known example yet for a Type Ic. The connection has been made between some Type IIn SNe and progenitor stars in a luminous blue variable phase, but that link is still thin, based on direct identifications. Finally, I also describe the need to revisit the SN site, long after the SN has faded, to confirm the progenitor identification through the star's disappearance and potentially to detect a putative binary companion that may have survived the explosion.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Van Dyk, Schuyler D.0000-0001-9038-9950
Additional Information:© 2017 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. Accepted November 11, 2017. One contribution of 9 to a Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Bridging the gap: from massive stars to supernovae’. This article has no additional data. I declare I have no competing interests. Support for programme GO-13340 was provided by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract no. NAS 5-26555. I greatly appreciate the contributions of my various coauthors over the years. I thank Sundar Srinivasan for generating the GRAMS models for the SNe 2012aw and 2013ej progenitors. I appreciate the comments from the referees, which improved the manuscript.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASANAS 5-26555
Subject Keywords:supernovae, stars: massive, stars: binary
Issue or Number:2105
PubMed Central ID:PMC5620491
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170925-083946998
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:The direct identification of core-collapse supernova progenitors Schuyler D. Van Dyk Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2017 375 20160277; DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2016.0277. Published 18 September 2017
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81796
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 Sep 2017 17:34
Last Modified:22 Mar 2022 19:20

Repository Staff Only: item control page