June 2018 • 2018ApJ...860...90V
Abstract • We have identified a progenitor candidate in archival Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images for the Type Ic supernova (SN Ic) SN 2017ein in NGC 3938, pinpointing the candidate’s location via HST Target of Opportunity imaging of the SN itself. This would be the first identification of a stellar-like object as a progenitor candidate for any SN Ic to date. We also present observations of SN 2017ein during the first ∼49 days since explosion. We find that SN 2017ein most resembles the well-studied SN Ic SN 2007gr. We infer that SN 2017ein experienced a total visual extinction of A V ≈ 1.0-1.9 mag, predominantly because of dust within the host galaxy. Although the distance is not well known, if this object is the progenitor, it was likely of high initial mass, ∼47-48 M ⊙ if a single star, or ∼60-80 M ⊙ if in a binary system. However, we also find that the progenitor candidate could be a very blue and young compact cluster, further implying a very massive (>65 M ⊙) progenitor. Furthermore, the actual progenitor might not be associated with the candidate at all and could be far less massive. From the immediate stellar environment, we find possible evidence for three different populations; if the SN progenitor was a member of the youngest population, this would be consistent with an initial mass of ∼57 M ⊙. After it has faded, the SN should be reobserved at high spatial resolution and sensitivity, to determine whether the candidate is indeed the progenitor.