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

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

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
Volume117
Issue number832
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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