AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 78 Seeing the Universe in a New (Sodium) Light: Early Science Results from Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics
Poster, Tuesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 10, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[78.01] The Hunt for Supernova Progenitors: A New Windew Opened with Keck LGS

A. Gal-Yam, D. B. Fox, S. R. Kulkarni, K. Matthews, D. C. Leonard, D. J. Sand, D.-S. Moon, S. B. Cenko, A. M. Soderberg (Caltech)

We report the results of a high spatial resolution search for the progenitor of Type Ic supernova SN 2004gt, using the newly commissioned Keck laser guide star adaptive optics (LGSAO) system along with archival Hubble Space Telescope data. This is the deepest search yet performed for the progenitor of any Type Ib/c event in a wide wavelength range stretching from the far-UV to the near-IR. We determine that the progenitor of SN 2004gt was most likely less luminous than MV=-5.5 mag and MB=-6.5 mag. The massive stars exploding as hydrogen-deficient core-collapse supernovae should have lost their outer hydrogen envelopes prior to their explosion, either through winds-such stars are identified within our Galaxy as Wolf-Rayet (W-R) stars - or to a binary companion. The luminosity limits we set rule out more than half of the known Galactic W-R stars as possible progenitors of this event. In particular, they imply that a W-R progenitor should have been among the more evolved (highly stripped, less luminous) of these stars, a concrete constraint on its evolutionary state just prior to core collapse. The possibility of a less luminous, lower mass binary progenitor cannot be constrained. This study demonstrates the power of LGS observations in furthering our understanding of core collapse and the physics powering supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and X-ray flashes. We describe future efforts planned at Keck. A.G. acknowledges support by NASA through Hubble Fellowship grant #HST-HF-01158.01-A awarded by STScI, which is operated by AURA, Inc., for NASA, under contract NAS 5-26555.

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