The Pre-explosion Mass Distribution of Hydrogen-poor Superluminous Supernova Progenitors and New Evidence for a Mass-Spin Correlation

Peter K. Blanchard, Edo Berger, Matt Nicholl, V. Ashley Villar, Peter K. Blanchard

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Despite indications that superluminous supernovae (SLSNe) originate from massive progenitors, the lack of a uniformly analyzed statistical sample has so far prevented a detailed view of the progenitor mass distribution. Here we present and analyze the pre-explosion mass distribution of hydrogen-poor SLSN progenitors as determined from uniformly modeled light curves of 62 events. We construct the distribution by summing the ejecta mass posteriors of each event, using magnetar light-curve models presented in our previous works (and using a nominal neutron star remnant mass). The resulting distribution spans 3.6-40 Me, with a sharp decline at lower masses, and is best fit by a broken power law described by dN d logM u M-0.410.06 at 3.6-8.6 Me and uM-1.260.06 at 8.6-40 Me. We find that observational selection effects cannot account for the shape of the distribution. Relative to Type Ib/c SNe, the SLSN mass distribution extends to much larger masses and has a different power-law shape, likely indicating that the formation of a magnetar allows more massive stars to explode as some of the rotational energy accelerates the ejecta. Comparing the SLSN distribution with predictions from single and binary star evolution models, we find that binary models for a metallicity of Z1/3 Ze are best able to reproduce its broad shape, in agreement with the preference of SLSNe for low metallicity environments. Finally, we uncover a correlation between the pre-explosion mass and the magnetar initial spin period, where SLSNe with low masses have slower spins, a trend broadly consistent with the effects of angular momentum transport evident in models of rapidly rotating carbon-oxygen stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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