Supernova 1954J (Variable 12) in NGC 2403 unmasked

Schuyler D. Van Dyk*, Alexei V. Filippenko, Ryan Chornock, Weidong Li, Peter M. Challis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We have confirmed that the precursor star of the unusual supernova 1954J (also known as Variable 12) in NGC 2403 survived what appears to have been a superoutburst, similar to the 1843 Great Eruption of η Carinae in the Galaxy. The apparent survivor has changed little in brightness and color over the last 8 years, and a Keck spectrum reveals characteristics broadly similar to those of η Car. This is further suggested by our identification of the actual outburst-surviving star in high-resolution images obtained with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope. We reveal this "supernova impostor" as a highly luminous (M V 0 ≈ -8.0 mag), very massive (M initial ≳ 25 M ) eruptive star, now surrounded by a dusty (A V ≈ 4 mag) nebula, similar to η Car's famous Homunculus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-562
Number of pages10
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number832
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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