The extreme hosts of extreme supernovae

James D. Neill, Mark Sullivan, Avishay Gal-Yam, Robert Quimby, Eran Ofek, Ted K. Wyder, D. Andrew Howell, Peter Nugent, Mark Seibert, D. Christopher Martin, Roderik Overzier, Tom A. Barlow, Karl Foster, Peter G. Friedman, Patrick Morrissey, Susan G. Neff, David Schiminovich, Luciana Bianchi, José Donas, Timothy M. HeckmanYoung Wook Lee, Barry F. Madore, Bruno Milliard, R. Michael Rich, Alex S. Szalay

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39 Citations (Scopus)


We use GALEX ultraviolet (UV) and optical integrated photometry of the hosts of 17 luminous supernovae (LSNe, having peak MV <-21) and compare them to a sample of 26,000 galaxies from a cross-match between the SDSS DR4 spectral catalog and GALEX interim release 1.1. We place the LSN hosts on the galaxy NUV-r versus Mr color-magnitude diagram (CMD) with the larger sample to illustrate how extreme they are. The LSN hosts appear to favor low-density regions of the galaxy CMD falling on the blue edge of the blue cloud toward the low-luminosity end. From the UV-optical photometry, we estimate the star formation history of the LSN hosts. The hosts have moderately low star formation rates (SFRs) and low stellar masses (M*) resulting in high specific star formation rates (sSFR). Compared with the larger sample, the LSN hosts occupy low-density regions of a diagram plotting sSFR versus M* in the area having higher sSFR and lower M*. This preference for low M*, high sSFR hosts implies that the LSNe are produced by an effect having to do with their local environment. The correlation of mass with metallicity suggests that perhaps wind-driven mass loss is the factor that prevents LSNe from arising in higher-mass, higher-metallicity hosts. The massive progenitors of the LSNe (>100 M), by appearing in low-SFR hosts, are potential tests for theories of the initial mass function that limit the maximum mass of a star based on the SFR.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan 20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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