The superluminous supernova PS1-11ap: Bridging the gap between low and high redshift

M. McCrum, S. J. Smartt, R. Kotak, A. Rest, A. Jerkstrand, C. Inserra, S. A. Rodney, T. W. Chen, D. A. Howell, M. E. Huber, A. Pastorello, J. L. Tonry, F. Bresolin, R. P. Kudritzki, R. Chornock, E. Berger, K. Smith, M. T. Botticella, R. J. Foley, M. FraserD. Milisavljevic, M. Nicholl, A. G. Riess, C. W. Stubbs, S. Valenti, W. M. Wood-Vasey, D. Wright, D. R. Young, M. Drout, I. Czekala, W. S. Burgett, K. C. Chambers, P. Draper, H. Flewelling, K. W. Hodapp, N. Kaiser, E. A. Magnier, N. Metcalfe, P. A. Price, W. Sweeney, R. J. Wainscoat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present optical photometric and spectroscopic coverage of the superluminous supernova (SLSN) PS1-11ap, discovered with the Pan-STARRS1 Medium Deep Survey at z = 0.524. This intrinsically blue transient rose slowly to reach a peak magnitude ofMu =-21.4mag and bolometric luminosity of 8 × 1043 erg s-1 before settling on to a relatively shallow gradient of decline. The observed decline is significantly slower than those of the SLSNe-Ic which have been the focus of much recent attention. Spectroscopic similarities with the lower redshift SN2007bi and a decline rate similar to 56Co decay time-scale initially indicated that this transient could be a candidate for a pair instability supernova (PISN) explosion. Overall the transient appears quite similar to SN2007bi and the lower redshift object PTF12dam. The extensive data set, from 30 d before peak to 230 d after, allows a detailed and quantitative comparison with published models of PISN explosions.We find that the PS1-11ap data do not match these model explosion parameters well, supporting the recent claim that these SNe are not pair instability explosions.We show that PS1-11ap has many features in common with the faster declining SLSNe-Ic, and the light-curve evolution can also be quantitatively explained by the magnetar spin-down model. At a redshift of z = 0.524, the observer-frame optical coverage provides comprehensive rest-frame UV data and allows us to compare it with the SLSNe recently found at high redshifts between z = 2 and 4. While these high-z explosions are still plausible PISN candidates, they match the photometric evolution of PS1-11ap and hence could be counterparts to this lower redshift transient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-674
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Supernovae: General
  • supernovae: Individual: Ps1-11ap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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