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Published August 1, 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

Discovery of the Extremely Energetic Supernova 2008fz


We report on the discovery and initial observations of the energetic type IIn supernova 2008fz. This object was discovered at redshift z = 0.133 and reached an apparent magnitude of V ~ 17. After correcting for Galactic extinction and redshift, we determine the peak absolute magnitude of the event to be M_V = –22.3, placing it among the most luminous supernovae discovered. The optical energy emitted by SN 2008fz (based on the light curve over an 88 day period) is possibly the most ever observed for a supernova (>1.4 × 10^(51) erg). The event was more luminous than the type IIn SN 2006gy, but exhibited the same smooth, slowly evolving light curve. As is characteristic of type IIn supernova, the early spectra of SN 2008fz initially exhibited narrow Balmer lines which were replaced by a broader component at later times. The spectra also show a blue continuum with no signs of Ca or Na absorption, suggesting that there is little extinction due to dust in the host or circumstellar material. No host galaxy is identified in prior co-added images reaching R ~ 22. From the supernova's redshift, we place an upper limit on the brightness of the host of M_R ~ –17 (similar to the brightness of the Small Magellanic Cloud). The presence of the supernova within such a faint galaxy follows the majority of recently discovered highly luminous supernovae. A possible reason for this is the combination of a high star formation rate in low-mass galaxies with a low-metallicity environment.

Additional Information

© 2010 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2009 August 13; accepted 2010 June 24; published 2010 July 12. We thank the anonymous referee for comments that helped significantly to improve this Letter. The CRTS survey is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under grants AST-0407448, AST-0909182, and CNS-0540369. The PQ survey is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under grants AST-0407448 and AST-0407297. The CSS survey is funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under grant NNG05GF22G issued through the Science Mission Directorate Near-Earth Objects Observations Program. J.L.P. is supported by NSF grant AST-0707982. Support for M.C. is provided by Proyecto Basal PFB-06/2007, by FONDAP Centro de Astrofísica 15010003, and by a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.

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Published - Drake2010p11224Astrophys_J_Lett.pdf


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