Hydrogen-poor superluminous supernovae and long-duration gamma-ray bursts have similar host galaxies

R. Lunnan, R. Chornock, E. Berger, T. Laskar, W. Fong, A. Rest, N. E. Sanders, P. M. Challis, M. R. Drout, R. J. Foley, M. E. Huber, R. P. Kirshner, C. Leibler, G. H. Marion, M. McCrum, D. Milisavljevic, G. Narayan, D. Scolnic, S. J. Smartt, K. W. SmithA. M. Soderberg, J. L. Tonry, W. S. Burgett, K. C. Chambers, H. Flewelling, K. W. Hodapp, N. Kaiser, E. A. Magnier, P. A. Price, R. J. Wainscoat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present optical spectroscopy and optical/near-IR photometry of 31 host galaxies of hydrogen-poor superluminous supernovae (SLSNe), including 15 events from the Pan-STARRS1 Medium Deep Survey. Our sample spans the redshift range 0.1 ≲ z ≲ 1.6, and is the first comprehensive host galaxy study of this specific subclass of cosmic explosions. Combining the multi-band photometry and emission-line measurements, we determine the luminosities, stellar masses, star formation rates, and metallicities. We find that, as a whole, the hosts of SLSNe are a low-luminosity (〈MB 〉 ≈ -17.3 mag), low stellar mass (〈M〉 ≈ 2 × 108 M) population, with a high median specific star formation rate (〈sSFR〉 ≈ 2 Gyr-1). The median metallicity of our spectroscopic sample is low, 12 + log (O/H) ≈ 8.35 ≈ 0.45 Z, although at least one host galaxy has solar metallicity. The host galaxies of H-poor SLSNe are statistically distinct from the hosts of GOODS core-collapse SNe (which cover a similar redshift range), but resemble the host galaxies of long-duration gamma-ray bursts (LGRBs) in terms of stellar mass, SFR, sSFR, and metallicity. This result indicates that the environmental causes leading to massive stars forming either SLSNe or LGRBs are similar, and in particular that SLSNe are more effectively formed in low metallicity environments. We speculate that the key ingredient is large core angular momentum, leading to a rapidly spinning magnetar in SLSNe and an accreting black hole in LGRBs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number138
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014


  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: star formation
  • supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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