Supernova Progenitors Observed with HST

2017 •

Authors • Van Dyk, Schuyler D.

Abstract • To understand the relevance of supernovae and to enable their use as probes of stellar evolution throughout time, it is necessary to determine their stellar origins. I describe the direct identification of supernova progenitors in existing pre-explosion images, particularly those obtained through serendipitous imaging of nearby galaxies by the Hubble Space Telescope. Establishing the astrometric coincidence of a supernova with its putative progenitor is straightforward. The interpretation of these results is more complicated and fraught with larger uncertainties. I describe the necessary ingredients for this interpretation. I comment on specific cases, particularly for core-collapse supernova progenitors, which are the only ones that have been detected to date. I also describe the need to revisit the supernova site, long after the supernova has faded, to confirm the progenitor identification through the star's disappearance and potentially to detect a putative binary companion that may have survived the explosion.


IPAC Authors

Schuyler Van Dyk

Senior Scientist