Detecting the progenitors of core collapse supernovae

Author: Smartt, Stephen

Source: Astrophysics and Space Science, Volume 281, Numbers 1-2, July 2002 , pp. 187-190(4)

Publisher: Springer

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The masses and the evolutionary states of the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae are not well constrained by direct observations. Stellar evolution theory generally predicts that massive stars with initial masses less than about 30M should undergo core-collapse when they are cool M-type supergiants. However the only two detections of a SN progenitor before explosion are SN1987A and SN1993J, and neither of these was an M-type supergiant. Attempting to identify the progenitors of supernovae is a difficult task, as precisely predicting the time of explosion of a massive star is impossible for obvious reasons. There are several different types of supernovae which have different spectral and photometric evolution, and how exactly these are related to the evolutionary states of the progenitor stars is not currently known. I will describe a novel project which may allow the direct identification of core-collapse supernovae progenitors on pre-explosion images of resolved, nearby galaxies. This project is now possible with the excellent image archives maintained by several facilities and will be enhanced by the new initiatives to create Virtual Observatories, the earliest of which (astrovirtel) is already producing results.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2002

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