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Published February 10, 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Early Radio and X-Ray Observations of the Youngest Nearby Type Ia Supernova PTF 11kly (SN 2011fe)


On 2011 August 24 (UT) the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) discovered PTF11kly (SN 2011fe), the youngest and most nearby Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) in decades. We followed this event up in the radio (centimeter and millimeter bands) and X-ray bands, starting about a day after the estimated explosion time.We present our analysis of the radio and X-ray observations, yielding the tightest constraints yet placed on the pre-explosion mass-loss rate from the progenitor system of this supernova. We find a robust limit of Ṁ ≾ 10^(−8)(w/100 km s^(−1))M_☉ yr^(−1) from sensitive X-ray non-detections, as well as a similar limit from radio data, which depends, however, on assumptions about microphysical parameters. We discuss our results in the context of single-degenerate models for SNe Ia and find that our observations modestly disfavor symbiotic progenitor models involving a red giant donor, but cannot constrain systems accreting from main-sequence or sub-giant stars, including the popular supersoft channel. In view of the proximity of PTF11kly and the sensitivity of our prompt observations, we would have to wait for a long time (a decade or longer) in order to more meaningfully probe the circumstellar matter of SNe Ia.

Additional Information

© 2012 American Astronomical Society. Received 2011 September 13; accepted 2011 October 25; published 2012 January 20. We thank the CARMA and EVLA staff for promptly scheduling this target of opportunity. This work made use of data supplied by the UK Swift Science Data Centre at the University of Leicester. We thank the ASTRON Radio Observatory for the generous and swift allocation of observing time. PTF is a fully automated, wide-field survey aimed at a systematic exploration of explosions and variable phenomena in optical wavelengths. The participating institutions are Caltech, Columbia University, Weizmann Institute of Science, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of Oxford, and University of California at Berkeley. The program is centered on a 12K × 8K, 7.8 square degree CCD array (CFH12K) re-engineered for the 1.2mOschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory by Caltech Optical Observatories. Photometric follow-up is undertaken by the automated Palomar 1.5 m telescope. Research at Caltech is supported by grants from NSF and NASA. The Weizmann PTF partnership is supported in part by the Israeli Science Foundation via grants to A.G. Weizmann–Caltech Collaboration is supported by a grant from the BSF to A.G. and S.R.K. A.G. further acknowledges the Lord Sieff of Brimpton Foundation. M.M.K. acknowledges support from a Hubble Fellowship and Carnegie–Princeton Fellowship. We thank the ASTRON Radio Observatory for the generous and swift allocation of observing time. The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope is operated by ASTRON (Netherlands Foundation for Radio Astronomy) with support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). A.J.v.d.H. was supported by NASA grant NNH07ZDA001-GLAST. S. B. C. acknowledges generous financial assistance from Gary & Cynthia Bengier, the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, NASA/Swift grants NNX10AI21G and GO-7100028, the TABASGO Foundation, and NSF grant AST-0908886. A.K. is partially supported by NSF award AST-1008353.

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