The High-Metallicity Explosion Environment of the Relativistic Supernova 2009bb

The Astrophysical Journal Letters (Impact Factor: 5.34). 12/2009; 709(1):L26. DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/709/1/L26
Source: arXiv


We investigate the environment of the nearby (d 40 Mpc) broad-lined Type Ic supernova (SN) 2009bb. This event was observed to produce a relativistic outflow likely powered by a central accreting compact object. While such a phenomenon was previously observed only in long-duration gamma-ray bursts (LGRBs), no LGRB was detected in association with SN 2009bb. Using an optical spectrum of the SN 2009bb explosion site, we determine a variety of interstellar medium properties for the host environment, including metallicity, young stellar population age, and star formation rate. We compare the SN explosion site properties to observations of LGRB and broad-lined SN Ic host environments on optical emission line ratio diagnostic diagrams. Based on these analyses, we find that the SN 2009bb explosion site has a metallicity between 1.7 Z ☉ and 3.5 Z ☉, in agreement with other broad-lined SN Ic host environments and at odds with the low-redshift LGRB host environments and recently proposed maximum metallicity limits for relativistic explosions. We consider the implications of these findings and the impact that SN 2009bb's unusual explosive properties and environment have on our understanding of the key physical ingredient that enables some SNe to produce a relativistic outflow.

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