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SN 2015bh: NGC 2770's 4th supernova or a luminous blue variable on its way to a Wolf-Rayet star?

AuthorsThöne, Cristina Carina ; Ugarte Postigo, Antonio de ; Leloudas, G.; Gall, C.; Cano, Z.; Maeda, K.; Schulze, S.; Campana, S.; Wiersema, K.; Groh, J.; De La Rosa, J.; Bauer, F.E.; Malesani, D.; Maund, J.; Morrell, N.; Beletsky, Y.
KeywordsStars: massive
Supernovae: individual: SN 2015bh, SN 2009ip
Issue Date2017
PublisherEDP Sciences
CitationAstronomy and Astrophysics 599: A129 (2017)
AbstractVery massive stars in the final phases of their lives often show unpredictable outbursts that can mimic supernovae, so-called, >SN impostors>, but the distinction is not always straightforward. Here we present observations of a luminous blue variable (LBV) in NGC 2770 in outburst over more than 20 yr that experienced a possible terminal explosion as type IIn SN in 2015, named SN 2015bh. This possible SN (or >main event>) had a precursor peaking ∼40 days before maximum. The total energy release of the main event is ∼1.8 × 10 erg, consistent with a <0.5 M shell plunging into a dense CSM. The emission lines show a single narrow P Cygni profile during the LBV phase and a double P Cygni profile post maximum suggesting an association of the second component with the possible SN. Since 1994 the star has been redder than an LBV in an S-Dor-like outburst. SN 2015bh lies within a spiral arm of NGC 2770 next to several small star-forming regions with a metallicity of ∼0.5 solar and a stellar population age of 7-10 Myr. SN 2015bh shares many similarities with SN 2009ip and may form a new class of objects that exhibit outbursts a few decades prior to a >hyper eruption> or final core-collapse. If the star survives this event it is undoubtedly altered, and we suggest that these >zombie stars> may evolve from an LBV to a Wolf-Rayet star over the timescale of only a few years. The final fate of these stars can only be determined with observations a decade or more after the SN-like event.© ESO, 2017.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1051/0004-6361/201629968
issn: 1432-0746
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