Exclusion of a luminous red giant as a companion star to the progenitor of supernova SN 2011fe

Weidong Li*, Joshua S. Bloom, Philipp Podsiadlowski, Adam A. Miller, S. Bradley Cenko, Saurabh W. Jha, Mark Sullivan, D. Andrew Howell, Peter E. Nugent, Nathaniel R. Butler, Eran O. Ofek, Mansi M. Kasliwal, Joseph W. Richards, Alan Stockton, Hsin Yi Shih, Lars Bildsten, Michael M. Shara, Joanne Bibby, Alexei V. Filippenko, Mohan GaneshalingamJeffrey M. Silverman, S. R. Kulkarni, Nicholas M. Law, Dovi Poznanski, Robert M. Quimby, Curtis McCully, Brandon Patel, Kate Maguire, Ken J. Shen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

269 Scopus citations

Abstract

Type Ia supernovae are thought to result from a thermonuclear explosion of an accreting white dwarf in a binary system, but little is known of the precise nature of the companion star and the physical properties of the progenitor system. There are two classes of models: double-degenerate (involving two white dwarfs in a close binary system) and single-degenerate models. In the latter, the primary white dwarf accretes material from a secondary companion until conditions are such that carbon ignites, at a mass of 1.38 times the mass of the Sun. The type Ia supernova SN 2011fe was recently detected in a nearby galaxy. Here we report an analysis of archival images of the location of SN 2011fe. The luminosity of the progenitor system (especially the companion star) is 10-100 times fainter than previous limits on other type Ia supernova progenitor systems, allowing us to rule out luminous red giants and almost all helium stars as the mass-donating companion to the exploding white dwarf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-350
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume480
Issue number7377
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2011

Funding

FundersFunder number
Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope
Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund
Sylvia and Jim Katzman Foundation
TABASGO Foundation
US National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation1009991, 1009987, 0941742
Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences1109174, 0847157, 0908886
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
W. M. Keck Foundation
University of California
American Museum of Natural History
University of California Berkeley
Science and Technology Facilities CouncilST/H002456/1
Royal Society

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