May 2013 • 2013AJ....145..118V
Abstract • Type IIn supernovae (SNe IIn) have been found to be associated with significant amounts of dust. These core-collapse events are generally expected to be the final stage in the evolution of highly massive stars, either while in an extreme red supergiant phase or during a luminous blue variable phase. Both evolutionary scenarios involve substantial pre-supernova mass loss. I have analyzed the SN IIn 1995N in MCG -02-38-017 (Arp 261), for which mid-infrared archival data obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2009 (~14.7 yr after explosion) and with the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer in 2010 (~15.6-16.0 yr after explosion) reveal a luminous (~2 × 107 L ⊙) source detected from 3.4 to 24 μm. These observations probe the circumstellar material, set up by pre-SN mass loss, around the progenitor star and indicate the presence of ~0.05-0.12 M ⊙ of pre-existing, cool dust at ~240 K. This is at least a factor ~10 lower than the dust mass required to be produced from SNe at high redshift, but the case of SN 1995N lends further evidence that highly massive stars could themselves be important sources of dust.