PS1-10afx at z = 1.388: Pan-STARRS1 discovery of a new type of superluminous supernova

R. Chornock, E. Berger, A. Rest, D. Milisavljevic, R. Lunnan, R. J. Foley, A. M. Soderberg, S. J. Smartt, A. J. Burgasser, P. Challis, L. Chomiuk, I. Czekala, M. Drout, W. Fong, M. E. Huber, R. P. Kirshner, C. Leibler, B. McLeod, G. H. Marion, G. NarayanA. G. Riess, K. C. Roth, N. E. Sanders, D. Scolnic, K. Smith, C. W. Stubbs, J. L. Tonry, S. Valenti, W. S. Burgett, K. C. Chambers, K. W. Hodapp, N. Kaiser, R. P. Kudritzki, E. A. Magnier, P. A. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present the Pan-STARRS1 discovery of PS1-10afx, a unique hydrogen-deficient superluminous supernova (SLSN) at redshift z = 1.388. The light curve peaked at z P1 = 21.7 mag, making PS1-10afx comparable to the most luminous known SNe, with Mu = -22.3 mag. Our extensive optical and near-infrared observations indicate that the bolometric light curve of PS1-10afx rose on the unusually fast timescale of 12 days to the extraordinary peak luminosity of 4.1 × 1044 erg s-1 (M bol = -22.8 mag) and subsequently faded rapidly. Equally important, the spectral energy distribution is unusually red for an SLSN, with a color temperature of 6800 K near maximum light, in contrast to previous hydrogen-poor SLSNe, which are bright in the ultraviolet (UV). The spectra more closely resemble those of a normal SN Ic than any known SLSN, with a photospheric velocity of 11, 000 km s-1 and evidence for line blanketing in the rest-frame UV. Despite the fast rise, these parameters imply a very large emitting radius (≳ 5 × 1015 cm). We demonstrate that no existing theoretical model can satisfactorily explain this combination of properties: (1) a nickel-powered light curve cannot match the combination of high peak luminosity with the fast timescale; (2) models powered by the spindown energy of a rapidly rotating magnetar predict significantly hotter and faster ejecta; and (3) models invoking shock breakout through a dense circumstellar medium cannot explain the observed spectra or color evolution. The host galaxy is well detected in pre-explosion imaging with a luminosity near L*, a star formation rate of 15 M yr-1, and is fairly massive (2 × 1010 M), with a stellar population age of 108 yr, also in contrast to the young dwarf hosts of known hydrogen-poor SLSNe. PS1-10afx is distinct from known examples of SLSNe in its spectra, colors, light-curve shape, and host galaxy properties, suggesting that it resulted from a different channel than other hydrogen-poor SLSNe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number162
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • supernovae: individual (PS1-10afx)
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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