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Published November 1, 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

Rapidly decaying supernova 2010X: A candidate ".Ia" explosion


We present the discovery, photometric, and spectroscopic follow-up observations of SN 2010X (PTF 10bhp). This supernova decays exponentially with τ_d = 5 days and rivals the current recordholder in speed, SN 2002bj. SN 2010X peaks at M_r = −17 mag and has mean velocities of 10,000 km s^(−1). Our light curve modeling suggests a radioactivity-powered event and an ejecta mass of 0.16M_⊙. If powered by Nickel, we show that the Nickel mass must be very small (≈0.02 M_⊙) and that the supernova quickly becomes optically thin to γ -rays. Our spectral modeling suggests that SN 2010X and SN 2002bj have similar chemical compositions and that one of aluminum or helium is present. If aluminum is present, we speculate that this may be an accretion-induced collapse of an O-Ne-Mg white dwarf. If helium is present, all observables of SN 2010X are consistent with being a thermonuclear helium shell detonation on a white dwarf, a ".Ia" explosion. With the 1 day dynamic-cadence experiment on the Palomar Transient Factory, we expect to annually discover a few such events.

Additional Information

© 2010 American Astronomical Society. Received 2010 September 5; accepted 2010 September 27; published 2010 October 13. M.M.K. thanks the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for a Hale Fellowship in support of graduate study.M.M.K. thanks the Pumarth Headquarters in Indore, India for their warm hospitality while writing this manuscript. We thank the referee for accepting this Letter on a timescale faster than that characterizing the rapid photometric evolution of this supernova. We acknowledge the following discussions:M.M.K. & Paolo Mazzali, A.G.Y. & David Branch, S.R.K. & Xiaofeng Wang, D.A.H. & Ryan Foley, M.M.K. & Rollin Thomas. We are grateful to the staff of the Gemini Observatory and Swift Observatory for efficiently executing TOO triggers. We thank the librarians who maintain the ADS, the NED, and SIMBAD data systems. The Weizmann Institute PTF participation is supported by grants to A.G.Y. from the Israel Science Foundation and the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation. E.O.O. and D.P. are supported by an Einstein Fellowship. S.B.C. is grateful for support from Gary and Cynthia Bengier and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. Computational resources and data storage were contributed by NERSC, supported by US DoE contract DE-AC02-05CH11231. P.E.N. acknowledges support from the US DoE contract DE-FG02-06ER06-04. Facilities: PO:1.2m, Hale, Gemini:Gillett, Hiltner, Swift

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