Volume 443, Number 2, November IV 2005
|Page(s)||649 - 662|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||04 November 2005|
Early and late time VLT spectroscopy of SN 2001el - progenitor constraints for a type Ia supernova
Stockholm Observatory, AlbaNova, Department of Astronomy, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden e-mail: email@example.com
2 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Oklahoma, 440 West Brooks Street, Norman, OK 73019, USA
3 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
4 Department of Astronomy and Research Center for the Early Universe, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Accepted: 26 September 2005
We present early time high-resolution (VLT/UVES) and late time low-resolution (VLT/FORS) optical spectra of the normal type Ia supernova, SN 2001el. The high-resolution spectra were obtained 9 and 2 days before (B-band) maximum light. This was in order to allow the detection of narrow hydrogen and/or helium emission lines from the circumstellar medium of the supernova. No such lines were detected in our data. We therefore use these spectra together with photoionisation models to derive upper limits of and for the mass loss rate from the progenitor system of SN 2001el assuming velocities of 10 km s-1 and 50 km s-1, respectively, for a wind extending to outside at least a few cm away from the supernova explosion site. So far, these are the best Hα based upper limits obtained for a type Ia supernova, and exclude a symbiotic star in the upper mass loss rate regime (so called Mira type stars) from being the progenitor of SN 2001el. The low-resolution spectrum was obtained in the nebular phase of the supernova, ~400 days after the maximum light, to search for any hydrogen rich gas originating from the supernova progenitor system. However, we see no signs of Balmer lines in our spectrum. Therefore, we model the late time spectra to derive an upper limit of ~0.03 for solar abundance material present at velocities lower than 1000 km s-1 within the supernova explosion site. According to numerical simulations of Marietta et al. (2000) this is less than the expected mass lost by a subgiant, red giant or a main-sequence secondary star at a small binary separation as a result of the SN explosion. Our data therefore exclude these scenarios as the progenitor of SN 2001el. Finally, we discuss the origin of high velocity Ca II lines previously observed in a few type Ia supernovae before the maximum light. We see both the Ca II IR triplet and the H&K lines in our earliest (-9 days) spectrum at a very high velocity of up to ~34 000 km s-1. The spectrum also shows a flat-bottomed Si II “6150 Å” feature similar to the one previously observed in SN 1990N (Leibundgut et al. 1991, ApJ, 371, L23) at 14 days before maximum light. We compare these spectral features in SN 2001el to those observed in SN 1984A and SN 1990N at even higher velocities.
Key words: supernovae: general / supernovae: individual: SN 2001el / supernovae: individual: SN 1990N, SN 1984A / circumstellar matter / techniques: spectroscopic
© ESO, 2005
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