D. A. Howell

Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Goleta, California, United States

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Publications (228)709.17 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The IceCube neutrino observatory pursues a follow-up program selecting interesting neutrino events in real-time and issuing alerts for electromagnetic follow-up observations. In March 2012, the most significant neutrino alert during the first three years of operation was issued by IceCube. In the follow-up observations performed by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), a Type IIn supernova (SN) PTF12csy was found 0.2∘ away from the neutrino alert direction, with an error radius of 0.54∘. It has a redshift of z=0.0684, corresponding to a luminosity distance of about 300Mpc and the Pan-STARRS1 survey shows that its explosion time was at least 158 days (in host galaxy rest frame) before the neutrino alert, so that a causal connection is unlikely. The a posteriori significance of the chance detection of both the neutrinos and the SN at any epoch is 2.2σ within IceCube's 2011/12 data acquisition season. Also, a complementary neutrino analysis reveals no long-term signal over the course of one year. Therefore, we consider the SN detection coincidental and the neutrinos uncorrelated to the SN. However, the SN is unusual and interesting by itself: It is luminous and energetic, bearing strong resemblance to the SN IIn 2010jl, and shows signs of interaction of the SN ejecta with a dense circumstellar medium. High-energy neutrino emission is expected in models of diffusive shock acceleration, but at a low, non-detectable level for this specific SN. In this paper, we describe the SN PTF12csy and present both the neutrino and electromagnetic data, as well as their analysis.
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the early-time light-curves of a large sample of 223 type II supernovae (SNe) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Supernova Legacy Survey. Having a cadence of a few days and sufficient non-detections prior to explosion, we constrain rise-times, i.e. the durations from estimated first to maximum light, as a function of effective wavelength. At restframe g-band (4722A), we find a distribution of fast rise-times with median of (7.5+/-0.3) days. Comparing these durations with analytical shock models of Rabinak and Waxman (2013); Nakar and Sari (2010) and hydrodynamical models of Tominaga et al. (2009), which are mostly sensitive to progenitor radius at these epochs, we find a median characteristic radius of less than 400 solar radii. The inferred radii are on average much smaller than the radii obtained for observed red supergiants (RSG). Investigating the post-maximum slopes as a function of effective wavelength in the light of theoretical models, we find that massive hydrogen envelopes are still needed to explain the plateaus of SNe II. We therefore argue that the SN II rise-times we observe are either a) the shock cooling resulting from the core collapse of RSG with small and dense envelopes, or b) the delayed and prolonged shock breakout of the collapse of a RSG with an extended atmosphere or embedded within pre-SN circumstellar material.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 05/2015; 451(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv1097 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present ultraviolet (UV) observations of six nearby Type~Ia supernovae (SNe~Ia) obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope, three of which were also observed in the near-IR (NIR) with Wide-Field Camera~3. UV observations with the Swift satellite, as well as ground-based optical and near-infrared data provide complementary information. The combined data-set covers the wavelength range $0.2$--$2~\mu$m. By also including archival data of SN 2014J, we analyse a sample spanning observed colour excesses up to $E(B-V)=1.4~$mag. We study the wavelength dependent extinction of each individual SN and find a diversity of reddening laws when characterised by the total-to-selective extinction $R_V$. In particular, we note that for the two SNe with $E(B-V)\gtrsim1~$mag, for which the colour excess is dominated by dust extinction, we find $R_V=1.4\pm0.1$ and $R_V=2.8\pm0.1$. Adding UV photometry reduces the uncertainty of fitted $R_V$ by $\sim50\,$% allowing us to also measure $R_V$ of individual low-extinction objects which point to a similar diversity, currently not accounted for in the analyses when SNe~Ia are used for studying the expansion history of the universe.
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    ABSTRACT: We present near-infrared (NIR) time-series spectroscopy, as well as complementary ultraviolet (UV), optical, and NIR data, of the Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) iPTF13ebh, which was discovered within two days from the estimated time of explosion. The first NIR spectrum was taken merely 2.3 days after explosion and may be the earliest NIR spectrum yet obtained of a SN Ia. The most striking features in the spectrum are several NIR C I lines, and the C I {\lambda}1.0693 {\mu}m line is the strongest ever observed in a SN Ia. Interestingly, no strong optical C II counterparts were found, even though the optical spectroscopic time series began early and is densely-cadenced. Except at the very early epochs, within a few days from the time of explosion, we show that the strong NIR C I compared to the weaker optical C II appears to be general in SNe Ia. iPTF13ebh is a fast decliner with {\Delta}m15(B) = 1.79 $\pm$ 0.01, and its absolute magnitude obeys the linear part of the width-luminosity relation. It is therefore categorized as a "transitional" event, on the fast-declining end of normal SNe Ia as opposed to subluminous/91bg-like objects. iPTF13ebh shows NIR spectroscopic properties that are distinct from both the normal and subluminous/91bg-like classes, bridging the observed characteristics of the two classes. These NIR observations suggest composition and density of the inner core similar to that of 91bg-like events, and a deep reaching carbon burning layer not observed in slower declining SNe Ia. There is also a substantial difference between the explosion times inferred from the early-time light curve and the velocity evolution of the Si II {\lambda}0.6355 {\mu}m line, implying a long dark phase of ~ 4 days.
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    ABSTRACT: We present optical observations of the peculiar Type Ibn supernova (SN Ibn) OGLE-2012-SN-006, discovered and monitored by the OGLE-IV survey, and spectroscopically followed by PESSTO at late phases. Stringent pre-discovery limits constrain the explosion epoch with fair precision to JD = 2456203.8 +- 4.0. The rise time to the I-band light curve maximum is about two weeks. The object reaches the peak absolute magnitude M(I) = -19.65 +- 0.19 on JD = 2456218.1 +- 1.8. After maximum, the light curve declines for about 25 days with a rate of 4 mag per 100d. The symmetric I-band peak resembles that of canonical Type Ib/c supernovae (SNe), whereas SNe Ibn usually exhibit asymmetric and narrower early-time light curves. Since 25 days past maximum, the light curve flattens with a decline rate slower than that of the 56Co to 56Fe decay, although at very late phases it steepens to approach that rate. An early-time spectrum is dominated by a blue continuum, with only a marginal evidence for the presence of He I lines marking this SN Type. This spectrum shows broad absorptions bluewards than 5000A, likely O II lines, which are similar to spectral features observed in super-luminous SNe at early epochs. The object has been spectroscopically monitored by PESSTO from 90 to 180 days after peak, and these spectra show the typical features observed in a number of SN 2006jc-like events, including a blue spectral energy distribution and prominent and narrow (v(FWHM) ~ 1900 km/s) He I emission lines. This suggests that the ejecta are interacting with He-rich circumstellar material. The detection of broad (10000 km/s) O I and Ca II features likely produced in the SN ejecta (including the [O I] 6300A,6364A doublet in the latest spectra) lends support to the interpretation of OGLE-2012-SN-006 as a core-collapse event.
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    ABSTRACT: We present optical observations of the peculiar stripped-envelope supernovae (SNe) LSQ12btw and LSQ13ccw discovered by the La Silla-QUEST survey. LSQ12btw reaches an absolute peak magnitude of M(g) = -19.3 +- 0.2, and shows an asymmetric light curve. Stringent prediscovery limits constrain its rise time to maximum light to less than 4 days, with a slower post-peak luminosity decline, similar to that experienced by the prototypical SN~Ibn 2006jc. LSQ13ccw is somewhat different: while it also exhibits a very fast rise to maximum, it reaches a fainter absolute peak magnitude (M(g) = -18.4 +- 0.2), and experiences an extremely rapid post-peak decline similar to that observed in the peculiar SN~Ib 2002bj. A stringent prediscovery limit and an early marginal detection of LSQ13ccw allow us to determine the explosion time with an uncertainty of 1 day. The spectra of LSQ12btw show the typical narrow He~I emission lines characterising Type Ibn SNe, suggesting that the SN ejecta are interacting with He-rich circumstellar material. The He I lines in the spectra of LSQ13ccw exhibit weak narrow emissions superposed on broad components. An unresolved Halpha line is also detected, suggesting a tentative Type Ibn/IIn classification. As for other SNe~Ibn, we argue that LSQ12btw and LSQ13ccw likely result from the explosions of Wolf-Rayet stars that experienced instability phases prior to core collapse. We inspect the host galaxies of SNe Ibn, and we show that all of them but one are hosted in spiral galaxies, likely in environments spanning a wide metallicity range.
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    ABSTRACT: We present multi-band ultraviolet and optical light curves, as well as visual-wavelength and near-infrared spectroscopy of the Type II linear (IIL) supernova (SN) 2013by. We show that SN 2013by and other SNe IIL in the literature, after their linear decline phase that start after maximum, have a sharp light curve decline similar to that seen in Type II plateau (IIP) supernovae. This light curve feature has rarely been observed in other SNe IIL due to their relative rarity and the intrinsic faintness of this particular phase of the light curve. We suggest that the presence of this drop could be used as a physical parameter to distinguish between subclasses of SNe II, rather than their light curve decline rate shortly after peak. Close inspection of the spectra of SN 2013by indicate asymmetric line profiles and signatures of high-velocity hydrogen. Late (less than 90 days after explosion) near-infrared spectra of SN 2013by exhibit oxygen lines, indicating significant mixing within the ejecta. From the late-time light curve, we estimate that 0.029 solar mass of 56Ni was synthesized during the explosion. It is also shown that the V -band light curve slope is responsible for part of the scatter in the luminosity (V magnitude 50 days after explosion) vs. 56Ni relation. Our observations of SN 2013by and other SNe IIL through the onset of the nebular phase indicate that their progenitors are similar to those of SNe IIP.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 01/2015; 448(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stv208 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a time series of the highest resolution spectra yet published for the nearby Type Ia supernova (SN) 2014J in M82. They were obtained at 11 epochs over 33 days around peak brightness with the Levy Spectrograph (resolution R~110,000) on the 2.4m Automated Planet Finder telescope at Lick Observatory. We identify multiple Na I D and K I absorption features, as well as absorption by Ca I H & K and several of the more common diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs). We see no evolution in any component of Na I D, Ca I, or in the DIBs, but do establish the dissipation/weakening of the two most blueshifted components of K I. We present several potential physical explanations, finding the most plausible to be photoionization of circumstellar material, and discuss the implications of our results with respect to the progenitor scenario of SN 2014J.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2014; 801(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/801/2/136 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present an analysis of the early, rising light curves of 18 Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) and the La Silla-QUEST variability survey (LSQ). We fit these early data flux using a simple power-law $(f(t) = {\alpha\times t^n})$ to determine the time of first light $({t_0})$, and hence the rise-time $({t_{rise}})$ from first light to peak luminosity, and the exponent of the power-law rise ($n$). We find a mean uncorrected rise time of $18.98 {\pm} 0.54$ days, with individual SN rise-times ranging from $15.98$ to $24.7$ days. The exponent n shows significant departures from the simple 'fireball model' of $n = 2$ (or ${f(t) \propto t^2}$) usually assumed in the literature. With a mean value of $n = 2.44 {\pm} 0.13$, our data also show significant diversity from event to event. This deviation has implications for the distribution of 56Ni throughout the SN ejecta, with a higher index suggesting a lesser degree of 56Ni mixing. The range of n found also confirms that the 56Ni distribution is not standard throughout the population of SNe Ia, in agreement with earlier work measuring such abundances through spectral modelling. We also show that the duration of the very early light curve, before the luminosity has reached half of its maximal value, does not correlate with the light curve shape or stretch used to standardise SNe Ia in cosmological applications. This has implications for the cosmological fitting of SN Ia light curves.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 11/2014; 446(4). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu2314 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present observational data for a peculiar supernova discovered by the OGLE-IV survey and followed by the Public ESO Spectroscopic Survey for Transient Objects. The inferred redshift of z=0.07 implies an absolute magnitude in the rest-frame I-band of M$_{I}\sim-17.6$ mag. This places it in the luminosity range between normal Type Ia SNe and novae. Optical and near infrared spectroscopy reveal mostly Ti and Ca lines, and an unusually red color arising from strong depression of flux at rest wavelengths <5000 \AA. To date, this is the only reported SN showing Ti-dominated spectra. Our multi band and bolometric lightcurves, as well as the spectral evolution, are in reasonable agreement with the predictions of models for the pure detonation of a helium shell around a low-mass CO white dwarf and "double-detonation" models that include a secondary detonation of a CO core following a primary detonation in an overlying helium shell.
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    ABSTRACT: We analyse spectroscopic measurements of 122 type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) with z<0.09 discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory, focusing on the properties of the Si II 6355 and Ca II `near-infrared triplet' absorptions. We examine the velocities of the photospheric Si II 6355, and the velocities and strengths of the photospheric and high-velocity Ca II, in the context of the stellar mass (Mstellar) and star-formation rate (SFR) of the SN host galaxies, as well as the position of the SN within its host. We find that SNe Ia with faster Si II 6355 tend to explode in more massive galaxies, with the highest velocity events only occuring in galaxies with Mstellar > 3*10^9 solar mass. We also find some evidence that these highest velocity SNe Ia explode in the inner regions of their host galaxies, similar to the study of Wang et al. (2013), although the trend is not as significant in our data. We show that these trends are consistent with some SN Ia spectral models, if the host galaxy stellar mass is interpreted as a proxy for host galaxy metallicity. We study the strength of the high-velocity component of the Ca II near-IR absorption, and show that SNe Ia with stronger high-velocity components relative to photospheric components are hosted by galaxies with low stellar mass, blue colour, and a high sSFR. Such SNe are therefore likely to arise from the youngest progenitor systems. This argues against a pure orientation effect being responsible for high-velocity features in SN Ia spectra and, when combined with other studies, is consistent with a scenario where high-velocity features are related to an interaction between the SN ejecta and circumstellar medium (CSM) local to the SN.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 09/2014; 446(1). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu2121 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network comprises nine 1-meter and two 2-meter telescopes, all robotic and dynamically scheduled, at five sites spanning the globe. Instrumentation includes optical imagers and low-dispersion spectrographs. A suite of high-dispersion, high-stability spectrographs is being developed for deployment starting late this year. The network has been designed and built to allow regular monitoring of time-variable or moving objects with any cadence, as well as rapid response to external alerts. Our intent is to operate it in a totally integrated way, both in terms of scheduling and in terms of data quality. The unique attributes of the LCOGT network make it different enough from any existing facility that alternative approaches to optimize science productivity can be considered. The LCOGT network V1.0 began full science operations this year. It is being used in novel ways to undertake investigations related to supernovae, microlensing events, solar system objects, and exoplanets. The network’s user base includes a number of partners, who are providing resources to the collaboration. A key project program brings together many of these partners to carry out large projects. In the long term, our vision is to operate the network as a part of a time-domain system, in which pre-planned monitoring observations are interspersed with autonomously detected and classified events from wide-area surveys.
    SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: We present optical and near infrared (NIR) observations of the nearby Type Ia SN 2014J. Seventeen optical and twenty-three NIR spectra were obtained from 10 days before ($-$10d) to 10 days after (+10d) the time of maximum $B$-band brightness. The relative strengths of absorption features and their patterns of development can be compared at one day intervals throughout most of this period. Carbon is not detected in the optical spectra, but we identify CI $\lambda$ 1.0693 in the NIR spectra. We find that MgII lines with high oscillator strengths have higher initial velocities than other MgII lines. We show that the velocity differences can be explained by differences in optical depths due to oscillator strengths. The spectra of SN 2014J show it is a normal SN Ia, but many parameters are near the boundaries between normal and high-velocity subclasses. The velocities for OI, MgII, SiII, SII, CaII and FeII suggest that SN 2014J has a layered structure with little or no mixing. That result is consistent with the delayed detonation explosion models. We also report photometric observations, obtained from $-$10d to +29d, in the $UBVRIJH$ and $K_s$ bands. SN 2014J is about 3 magnitudes fainter than a normal SN Ia at the distance of M82, which we attribute to extinction in the host. The template fitting package SNooPy is used to interpret the light curves and to derive photometric parameters. Using $R_V$ = 1.46, which is consistent with previous studies, SNooPy finds that $A_V = 1.80$ for $E(B-V)_{host}=1.23 \pm 0.01$ mag. The maximum $B$-band brightness of $-19.19 \pm 0.10$ mag was reached on February 1.74 UT $ \pm 0.13$ days and the supernova had a decline parameter of $\Delta m_{15}=1.11 \pm 0.02$ mag.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2014; 798(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/798/1/39 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of a Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) archival search for blue transients which lie in the magnitude range between "normal" core-collapse and superluminous supernovae (i.e. with $-21\,{\leq}M_{R\,(peak)}\,{\leq}-19$). Of the six events found after excluding all interacting Type IIn and Ia-CSM supernovae, three (PTF09ge, 09axc and 09djl) are coincident with the centers of their hosts, one (10iam) is offset from the center, and for two (10nuj and 11glr) a precise offset can not be determined. All the central events are similar photometrically to the He-rich tidal disruption candidate PS1-10jh. Spectroscopically, PTF09ge is also He-rich, while PTF09axc and 09djl display broad hydrogen features around peak magnitude. All three central events are in low star-formation hosts, two of which are E+A galaxies. Our spectrum of the host of PS1-10jh displays similar properties. PTF10iam, the one offset event, is different photometrically and spectroscopically from the central events and its host displays a higher star formation rate. Finding no obvious evidence for AGN activity, we conclude that the three central transients likely arise from the tidal disruption of a star by a super-massive black hole. We compare the spectra of these events to TDE candidates from the literature and to the recent ASASSN-14ae, and find that all of these objects can be unified on a continuous scale of spectral properties. The accumulated evidence of this expanded sample strongly supports a tidal disruption origin for this class of nuclear transients.
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    ABSTRACT: We present optical spectra and light curves for three hydrogen-poor super-luminous supernovae followed by the Public ESO Spectroscopic Survey of Transient Objects (PESSTO). Time series spectroscopy from a few days after maximum light to 100 days later shows them to be fairly typical of this class, with spectra dominated by Ca II, Mg II, Fe II and Si II, which evolve slowly over most of the post-peak photospheric phase. We determine bolometric light curves and apply simple fitting tools, based on the diffusion of energy input by magnetar spin-down, \Ni decay, and collision of the ejecta with an opaque circumstellar shell. We investigate how the heterogeneous light curves of our sample (combined with others from the literature) can help to constrain the possible mechanisms behind these events. We have followed these events to beyond 100-200 days after peak, to disentangle host galaxy light from fading supernova flux and to differentiate between the models, which predict diverse behaviour at this phase. Models powered by radioactivity require unrealistic parameters to reproduce the observed light curves, as found by previous studies. Both magnetar heating and circumstellar interaction still appear to be viable candidates. A large diversity in the luminosity in the tail phases is emerging with magnetar models failing in some cases to predict the rapid drop in flux. This would suggest either that magnetars are not responsible, or that the X-ray flux from the magnetar wind is not fully trapped. The light curve of one object shows a distinct re-brightening at around 100d after maximum light. We argue that this could result either from multiple shells of circumstellar material, or from a magnetar ionisation front breaking out of the ejecta.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 05/2014; 444(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1579 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of a Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) archival search for blue transients which lie in the magnitude range between "normal" core-collapse and superluminous supernovae (i.e. with $-21\,{\leq}M_{R\,(peak)}\,{\leq}-19$). Of the six events found after excluding all interacting Type IIn and Ia-CSM supernovae, three (PTF09ge, 09axc and 09djl) are coincident with the centers of their hosts, one (10iam) is offset from the center, and for two (10nuj and 11glr) a precise offset can not be determined. All the central events are similar photometrically to the He-rich tidal disruption candidate PS1-10jh. Spectroscopically, PTF09ge is also He-rich, while PTF09axc and 09djl display broad hydrogen features around peak magnitude. All three central events are in low star-formation hosts, two of which are E+A galaxies. Our spectrum of the host of PS1-10jh displays similar properties. PTF10iam, the one offset event, is different photometrically and spectroscopically from the central events and its host displays a higher star formation rate. Finding no obvious evidence for AGN activity, we conclude that the three central transients likely arise from the tidal disruption of a star by a super-massive black hole. We compare the spectra of these events to TDE candidates from the literature and to the recent ASASSN-14ae, and find that all of these objects can be unified on a continuous scale of spectral properties. The accumulated evidence of this expanded sample strongly supports a tidal disruption origin for this class of nuclear transients.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2014; 793(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/793/1/38 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present an extensive optical and near-infrared photometric and spectroscopic campaign of the type IIP supernova SN 2012aw. The dataset densely covers the evolution of SN 2012aw shortly after the explosion up to the end of the photospheric phase, with two additional photometric observations collected during the nebular phase, to fit the radioactive tail and estimate the $^{56}$Ni mass. Also included in our analysis is the already published \textit{Swift} UV data, therefore providing a complete view of the ultraviolet-optical-infrared evolution of the photospheric phase. On the basis of our dataset, we estimate all the relevant physical parameters of SN 2012aw with our radiation-hydrodynamics code: envelope mass $M_{env} \sim 20 M_\odot$, progenitor radius $R \sim 3 \times 10^{13}$ cm ($ \sim 430 R_\odot$), explosion energy $E \sim 1.5$ foe, and initial $^{56}$Ni mass $\sim 0.06$ $M_\odot$. These mass and radius values are reasonably well supported by independent evolutionary models of the progenitor, and may suggest a progenitor mass higher than the observational limit of $16.5 \pm 1.5 M_\odot$ of the Type IIP events.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2014; 787(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/787/2/139 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate iPTF13bvn, a core-collapse (CC) supernova (SN) in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 5806. This object was discovered by the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory very soon after the explosion and was classified as a stripped-envelope CC SN, likely of Type Ib. A possible progenitor detection in pre-explosion Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images was reported, making this the only SN Ib with such an identification. Based on photometry of the progenitor candidate and on early-time SN data, it was argued that the progenitor candidate is consistent with a single, massive Wolf-Rayet (WR) star. In this work we present follow-up multi-band light-curves and optical spectra of iPTF13bvn. We perform spectral line analysis to track the evolution of the SN ejecta, construct a bolometric light curve and perform hydrodynamical calculations to model this light curve to constrain the synthesized radioactive nickel mass and the total ejecta mass of the SN. Late-time photometry is analyzed to constrain the amount of oxygen. Furthermore, image registration of pre- and post-explosion HST images is performed. Our HST astrometry confirms the location of the progenitor candidate, and follow-up spectra securely classify iPTF13bvn as a SN Ib. Our hydrodynamical model indicates an ejecta mass of 1.9 solar masses and radioactive nickel mass of 0.05 solar masses. The model fit requires the nickel to be highly mixed in the progenitor. The late-time nebular r'-band luminosity is not consistent with predictions based on the expected oxygen nucleosynthesis in very massive stars. Our bolometric light curve of iPTF13bvn is not consistent with the previously proposed single massive WR-star progenitor scenario. The ejecta mass and the late-time oxygen emission are both significantly lower than what would be expected from a single WR progenitor with a main-sequence mass of at least 30 solar masses.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 03/2014; 565. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201423884 · 4.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report on the discovery of SN 2014J in the nearby galaxy M82. Given its proximity, it offers the best opportunity to date to study a thermonuclear supernova (SN) over a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Optical, near-IR, and mid-IR observations on the rising light curve, orchestrated by the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory, show that SN 2014J is a spectroscopically normal Type Ia supernova (SN Ia), albeit exhibiting high-velocity features in its spectrum and heavily reddened by dust in the host galaxy. Our earliest detections start just hours after the fitted time of explosion. We use high-resolution optical spectroscopy to analyze the dense intervening material and do not detect any evolution in the resolved absorption features during the light curve rise. Similar to other highly reddened SNe Ia, a low value of total-to-selective extinction, RV 2, provides the best match to our observations. We also study pre-explosion optical and near-IR images from Hubble Space Telescope with special emphasis on the sources nearest to the SN location.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 03/2014; 784(1):L12. DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/784/1/L12 · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present time series photometric and spectroscopic data for the transient SN 2009ip from the start of its outburst in September 2012 until November 2013. This data was collected primarily with the new robotic capabilities of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, a specialized facility for time domain astrophysics, and includes supporting high-resolution spectroscopy from the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope, Kitt Peak National Observatory, and Gemini Observatory. Based on our nightly photometric monitoring, we interpret the strength and timing of fluctuations in the light curve as interactions between fast-moving ejecta and an inhomogeneous CSM produced by past eruptions of this massive luminous blue variable (LBV) star. Our time series of spectroscopy in 2012 reveals that, as the continuum and narrow H-alpha flux from CSM interactions declines, the broad component of H-alpha persists with SN-like velocities that are not typically seen in LBVs or SN Impostor events. At late times we find that SN 2009ip continues to decline slowly, at <0.01 magnitudes per day, with small fluctuations in slope similar to Type IIn supernovae (SNe IIn) or SN impostors, but no further LBV-like activity. The late time spectrum features broad calcium lines similar to both late time SNe and SN Impostors. In general, we find that the photometric and spectroscopic evolution of SN 2009ip is more similar to SNe IIn than either continued eruptions of an LBV star or SN Impostors. In this context, we discuss the implications for episodic mass loss during the late stages of massive star evolution.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2014; 787(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/787/2/163 · 6.28 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

5k Citations
709.17 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2010–2015
    • Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network
      Goleta, California, United States
  • 2009–2015
    • University of California, Santa Barbara
      • Department of Physics
      Santa Barbara, California, United States
  • 2004–2009
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    • San Diego State University
      • Department of Astronomy
      San Diego, California, United States
  • 2002–2008
    • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
      Berkeley, California, United States
    • University of California, Berkeley
      Berkeley, California, United States