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An Intermediate Luminosity Transient in NGC 300: The Eruption of a Dust-Enshrouded Massive Star
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Astronomy.
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2009 (English)In: Astrophysical Journal, ISSN 0004-637X, E-ISSN 1538-4357, Vol. 699, 1850-1865 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present multi-epoch high-resolution optical spectroscopy, UV/radio/X-ray imaging, and archival Hubble and Spitzer observations of an intermediate luminosity optical transient recently discovered in the nearby galaxy NGC 300. We find that the transient (NGC 300 OT2008-1) has a peak absolute magnitude of M bol ≈ -11.8 mag, intermediate between novae and supernovae, and similar to the recent events M85 OT2006-1 and SN 2008S. Our high-resolution spectra, the first for this event, are dominated by intermediate velocity (~200-1000 km s-1) hydrogen Balmer lines and Ca II emission and absorption lines that point to a complex circumstellar environment, reminiscent of the yellow hypergiant IRC+10420. In particular, we detect asymmetric Ca II H&K absorption with a broad red wing extending to ~103 km s-1, indicative of gas inflow at high velocity (possibly the wind of a massive binary companion). The low luminosity, intermediate velocities, and overall similarity to a known eruptive star indicate that the event did not result in a complete disruption of the progenitor. We identify the progenitor in archival Spitzer observations, with deep upper limits from Hubble data. The spectral energy distribution points to a dust-enshrouded star with a luminosity of about 6 × 104 L sun, indicative of a ~10-20 M sun progenitor (or binary system). This conclusion is in good agreement with our interpretation of the outburst and circumstellar properties. The lack of significant extinction in the transient spectrum indicates that the dust surrounding the progenitor was cleared by the outburst. We thus predict that the progenitor should be eventually visible with Hubble if the transient event marks an evolutionary transition to a dust-free state, or with Spitzer if the event marks a cyclical process of dust formation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 699, 1850-1865 p.
Keyword [en]
circumstellar matter, stars: evolution, stars: mass loss, stars: winds, outflows
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-36302DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/699/2/1850ISI: 000267401500084ISBN: 0004-637XOAI: diva2:289176
Available from: 2010-01-22 Created: 2010-01-22 Last updated: 2011-02-15Bibliographically approved

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