Pan-starrs1 discovery of two ultraluminous supernovae at z ≈ 0.9

L. Chomiuk, R. Chornock, A. M. Soderberg, E. Berger, R. A. Chevalier, R. J. Foley, M. E. Huber, G. Narayan, A. Rest, S. Gezari, R. P. Kirshner, A. Riess, S. A. Rodney, S. J. Smartt, C. W. Stubbs, J. L. Tonry, W. M. Wood-Vasey, W. S. Burgett, K. C. Chambers, I. CzekalaH. Flewelling, K. Forster, N. Kaiser, R. P. Kudritzki, E. A. Magnier, D. C. Martin, J. S. Morgan, J. D. Neill, P. A. Price, K. C. Roth, N. E. Sanders, R. J. Wainscoat

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166 Scopus citations


We present the discovery of two ultraluminous supernovae (SNe) at z ≈0.9 with the Pan-STARRS1 Medium Deep Survey. These SNe, PS1-10ky and PS1-10awh, are among the most luminous SNe ever discovered, comparable to the unusual transients SN 2005ap and SCP 06F6. Like SN 2005ap and SCP 06F6, they show characteristic high luminosities (M bol≈ -22.5mag), blue spectra with a few broad absorption lines, and no evidence for H or He. We have constructed a full multi-color light curve sensitive to the peak of the spectral energy distribution in the rest-frame ultraviolet, and we have obtained time series spectroscopy for these SNe. Given the similarities between the SNe, we combine their light curves to estimate a total radiated energy over the course of explosion of (0.9-1.4) × 1051erg. We find photospheric velocities of 12,000-19,000kms-1 with no evidence for deceleration measured across 3 rest-frame weeks around light curve peak, consistent with the expansion of an optically thick massive shell of material. We show that, consistent with findings for other ultraluminous SNe in this class, radioactive decay is not sufficient to power PS1-10ky, and we discuss two plausible origins for these events: the initial spin-down of a newborn magnetar in a core-collapse SN, or SN shock breakout from the dense circumstellar wind surrounding a Wolf-Rayet star.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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