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Discovery of an Intermediate-luminosity Red Transient in M51 and Its Likely Dust-obscured, Infrared-variable Progenitor
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Number of Authors: 522019 (English)In: Astrophysical Journal Letters, ISSN 2041-8205, E-ISSN 2041-8213, Vol. 880, no 2, article id L20Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present the discovery of an optical transient (OT) in Messier. 51, designated M51 OT2019-1 (also ZTF 19aadyppr, AT 2019abn, ATLAS19bz1), by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). The OT rose over 15. days to an observed luminosity of M-r = -13 (nu L-nu = 9 x 10(6) L-circle dot), in the luminosity gap between novae and typical supernovae (SNe). Spectra during the outburst show a red continuum, Balmer emission with a velocity width of approximate to 400 km s(-1), Ca II and [Ca II] emission, and absorption features characteristic of an F-type supergiant. The spectra and multiband light curves are similar to the so-called SN impostors and intermediate-luminosity red transients (ILRTs). We directly identify the likely progenitor in archival Spitzer Space Telescope imaging with a 4.5 mu m luminosity of M-[4.5] approximate to -12.2 mag and a [3.6]-[4.5] color redder than 0.74 mag, similar to those of the prototype ILRTs SN 2008S and NGC 300 OT2008-1. Intensive monitoring of M51 with Spitzer further reveals evidence for variability of the progenitor candidate at [ 4.5] in the years before the OT. The progenitor is not detected in pre-outburst Hubble Space Telescope optical and near-IR images. The optical colors during outburst combined with spectroscopic temperature constraints imply a higher reddening of E(B - V) approximate to 0.7 mag and higher intrinsic luminosity of M-r approximate to -14.9 mag (nu L-nu = 5.3 x 10(7) L-circle dot) near peak than seen in previous ILRT candidates. Moreover, the extinction estimate is higher on the rise than on the plateau, suggestive of an extended phase of circumstellar dust destruction. These results, enabled by the early discovery of M51. OT2019-1 and extensive pre-outburst archival coverage, offer new clues about the debated origins of ILRTs and may challenge the hypothesis that they arise from the electron-capture induced collapse of extreme asymptotic giant branch stars.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 880, no 2, article id L20
Keywords [en]
circumstellar matter, galaxies: individual (M51), stars: evolution, stars: variables: general, stars: winds, outflows, supernovae: individual (M51 OT2019-1)
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-171672DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab2c05ISI: 000478807400003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-171672DiVA, id: diva2:1344563
Available from: 2019-08-21 Created: 2019-08-21 Last updated: 2019-08-21Bibliographically approved

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Barbarino, CristinaSollerman, Jesper
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Department of AstronomyThe Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmo Particle Physics (OKC)
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