The detection of a light echo from the type Ia supernova 2006X in M100

Xiaofeno Wang, Weidong Li, Alexei V. Filippenko, Ryan J. Foley, Nathan Smith, Lipan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the discovery of a light echo (LE) from the Type Ia supernova (SN ) 2006X in the nearby galaxy M100. The presence of the LE is supported by analysis of both the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) images and the Keck optical spectrum that we obtained at ~300 days after maximum brightness. In the image procedure, both the radial-profile analysis and the point-spread function (PSF) subtraction method resolve significant excess emission at 2-5 ACS pixels (∼0.05″-0.13″) from the center. In particular, the PSF-subtracted ACS images distinctly appear to have an extended, ringlike echo. Due to limitations of the image resolution, we cannot confirm any structure or flux within 2 ACS pixels from the SN. The late-time spectrum of SN 2006X can be reasonably fit with two components: a nebular spectrum of a normal SN Ia and a synthetic LE spectrum. Both image and spectral analysis show a rather blue color for the emission of the LE, suggestive of a small average grain size for the scattering dust. Using the Cepheid distance to M100 of 15.2 Mpc, we find that the dust illuminated by the resolved LE is ~27-170 pc from the SN. The echo inferred from the nebular spectrum appears to be more luminous than that resolved in the images (at the ∼2 σ level), perhaps suggesting the presence of an inner echo at <2 ACS pixels (∼0.05″). It is not clear, however, whether this possible local echo was produced by a distinct dust component (i.e., the local circumstellar dust) or by a continuous, larger distribution of dust as with the outer component. Nevertheless, our detection of a significant echo in SN 2006X confirms that this supernova was produced in a dusty environment having small dust particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1060-1068
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2008


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Dust, extinction
  • Supernovae: general supernovae: individual (SN 2006X)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The detection of a light echo from the type Ia supernova 2006X in M100'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this