SN 2023ixf in Messier 101: A Variable Red Supergiant as the Progenitor Candidate to a Type II Supernova

Charles D. Kilpatrick, Ryan J. Foley, Wynn V. Jacobson-Galán, Anthony L. Piro, Stephen J. Smartt, Maria R. Drout, Alexander Gagliano, Christa Gall, Jens Hjorth, David O. Jones, Kaisey S. Mandel, Raffaella Margutti, Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Conor L. Ransome, V. Ashley Villar, David A. Coulter, Hua Gao, David Jacob Matthews, Kirsty Taggart, Yossef Zenati

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We present preexplosion optical and infrared (IR) imaging at the site of the type II supernova (SN II) 2023ixf in Messier 101 at 6.9 Mpc. We astrometrically registered a ground-based image of SN 2023ixf to archival Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Spitzer Space Telescope (Spitzer), and ground-based near-IR images. A single point source is detected at a position consistent with the SN at wavelengths ranging from HST R band to Spitzer 4.5 μm. Fitting with blackbody and red supergiant (RSG) spectral energy distributions (SEDs), we find that the source is anomalously cool with a significant mid-IR excess. We interpret this SED as reprocessed emission in a 8600 R circumstellar shell of dusty material with a mass ∼5 × 10−5 M surrounding a log ( L / L ⊙ ) = 4.74 ± 0.07 and T eff = 3920 − 160 + 200 K RSG. This luminosity is consistent with RSG models of initial mass 11 M , depending on assumptions of rotation and overshooting. In addition, the counterpart was significantly variable in preexplosion Spitzer 3.6 and 4.5 μm imaging, exhibiting ∼70% variability in both bands correlated across 9 yr and 29 epochs of imaging. The variations appear to have a timescale of 2.8 yr, which is consistent with κ-mechanism pulsations observed in RSGs, albeit with a much larger amplitude than RSGs such as α Orionis (Betelgeuse).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL23
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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