Kinematics and host-galaxy properties suggest a nuclear origin for calcium-rich supernova progenitors

Ryan J. Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Calcium-rich supernovae (Ca-rich SNe) are peculiar low-luminosity SNe Ib with relatively strong Ca spectral lines at ~2 months after peak brightness. This class also has an extended projected offset distribution, with several members of the class offset from their host galaxies by 30-150 kpc. There is no indication of any stellar population at the SN positions. Using a sample of 13 Ca-rich SNe, we present kinematic evidence that the progenitors of Ca-rich SNe originate near the centres of their host galaxies and are kicked to the locations of the SN explosions. Specifically, SNe with small projected offsets have large line-of-sight velocity shifts as determined by nebular lines, while those with large projected offsets have no significant velocity shifts. Therefore, the velocity shifts must not be primarily the result of the SN explosion. Additionally, nearly every Ca-rich SN is hosted by a galaxy with indications of a recent merger and/or is in a dense environment. We propose a progenitor model which fits all current data: the progenitor system for a Ca-rich SN is a double white dwarf (WD) system where at least one WD has a significant He abundance. This system, through an interaction with a super-massive black hole (SMBH) is ejected from its host galaxy and the binary is hardened, significantly reducing the merger time. After 10-100 Myr (on average), the system explodes with a large physical offset. The rate for such events is significantly enhanced for galaxies which have undergone recent mergers, potentially making Ca-rich SNe new probes of both the galaxy merger rate and (binary) SMBH population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2463-2478
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 27 2015


  • Galaxies: individual: 2MASS J22465295+2138221, CGCG 170-011, IC 3956, NGC 1032, NGC 1129, NGC 2207, NGC 2272, NGC 2768, NGC 4589, NGC 5559, NGC 5714, NGC 7265, UGC 6934
  • Supernovae: general
  • Supernovae: individual: SN 2000ds, SN 2001co, SN 2003H, SN 2003dg, SN 2003dr, SN 2005E, SN 2005cz, SN 2007ke, SN 2010et, SN 2012hn, PTF09dav, PTF11bij, PTF11kmb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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