A multi-wavelength investigation of the radio-loud supernova PTF11qcj and its circumstellar environment

A. Corsi, E. O. Ofek, A. Gal-Yam, D. A. Frail, S. R. Kulkarni, D. B. Fox, M. M. Kasliwal, M. Sullivan, A. Horesh, J. Carpenter, K. Maguire, I. Arcavi, S. B. Cenko, Y. Cao, K. Mooley, Y. C. Pan, B. Sesar, A. Sternberg, D. Xu, D. BersierP. James, J. S. Bloom, P. E. Nugent

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Abstract

We present the discovery, classification, and extensive panchromatic (from radio to X-ray) follow-up observations of PTF11qcj, a supernova (SN) discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). Our observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array show that this event is radio-loud: PTF11qcj reached a radio peak luminosity comparable to that of the famous gamma-ray-burst-associated SN 1998bw (L 5 GHz 1029 erg s-1 Hz-1). PTF11qcj is also detected in X-rays with the Chandra Observatory, and in the infrared band with Spitzer. Our multi-wavelength analysis probes the SN interaction with circumstellar material. The radio observations suggest a progenitor mass-loss rate of 10-4 M yr-1 × (vw /1000 km s-1), and a velocity of 0.3-0.5 c for the fastest moving ejecta (at 10 days after explosion). However, these estimates are derived assuming the simplest model of SN ejecta interacting with a smooth circumstellar wind, and do not account for possible inhomogeneities in the medium and asphericity of the explosion. The radio data show deviations from such a simple model, as well as a late-time re-brightening. The X-ray flux from PTF11qcj is compatible with the high-frequency extrapolation of the radio synchrotron emission (within the large uncertainties). A light echo from pre-existing dust is in agreement with our infrared data. Our pre-explosion data from the PTF suggest that a precursor eruption of absolute magnitude Mr -13 mag may have occurred 2.5 yr prior to the SN explosion. Overall, PTF11qcj fits the expectations from the explosion of a Wolf-Rayet star. Precursor eruptions may be a feature characterizing the final pre-explosion evolution of such stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number42
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume782
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 10 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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