Report

ASASSN-15lh: A highly super-luminous supernova

Science  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 257-260
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9613

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The most luminous supernova to date

Supernovae are exploding stars at the end of their lives, providing an input of heavy elements and energy into galaxies. Some types have near-identical peak brightness, but in recent years a new class of superluminous supernovae has been found. Dong et al.y report the discovery of ASASSN-15lh (SN 2015L), the most luminous supernova yet found by some margin. It appears to originate in a large quiescent galaxy, in contrast to most super-luminous supernovae, which typically come from star-forming dwarf galaxies. The discovery will provide constraints on models of superluminous supernovae and how they affect their host galaxies.

Science, this issue p. 257

Abstract

We report the discovery of ASASSN-15lh (SN 2015L), which we interpret as the most luminous supernova yet found. At redshift z = 0.2326, ASASSN-15lh reached an absolute magnitude of Mu,AB = –23.5 ± 0.1 and bolometric luminosity Lbol = (2.2 ± 0.2) × 1045 ergs s–1, which is more than twice as luminous as any previously known supernova. It has several major features characteristic of the hydrogen-poor super-luminous supernovae (SLSNe-I), whose energy sources and progenitors are currently poorly understood. In contrast to most previously known SLSNe-I that reside in star-forming dwarf galaxies, ASASSN-15lh appears to be hosted by a luminous galaxy (MK ≈ –25.5) with little star formation. In the 4 months since first detection, ASASSN-15lh radiated (1.1 ± 0.2) × 1052 ergs, challenging the magnetar model for its engine.

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