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SPIRITS: Uncovering Unusual Infrared Transients with Spitzer

Kasliwal, MM and Bally, J and Masci, F and Cody, AM and Bond, HE and Jencson, JE and Tinyanont, S and Cao, Y and Contreras, C and Dykhoff, DA and Amodeo, S and Armus, L and Boyer, M and Cantiello, M and Carlon, RL and Cass, AC and Cook, D and Corgan, DT and Faella, J and Fox, OD and Green, W and Gehrz, RD and Helou, G and Hsiao, E and Johansson, J and Khan, RM and Lau, RM and Langer, N and Levesque, E and Milne, P and Mohamed, S and Morrell, N and Monson, A and Moore, A and Ofek, EO and Sullivan, DO and Parthasarathy, M and Perez, A and Perley, DA and Phillips, M and Prince, TA and Shenoy, D and Smith, N and Surace, J and Dyk, SDV and Whitelock, PA and Williams, R (2017) SPIRITS: Uncovering Unusual Infrared Transients with Spitzer. The Astrophysical Journal, 839 (2). ISSN 1538-4357

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Abstract

We present an ongoing, five-year systematic search for extragalactic infrared transients, dubbed SPIRITS—SPitzer InfraRed Intensive Transients Survey. In the first year, using Spitzer/IRAC, we searched 190 nearby galaxies with cadence baselines of one month and six months. We discovered over 1958 variables and 43 transients. Here, we describe the survey design and highlight 14 unusual infrared transients with no optical counterparts to deep limits, which we refer to as SPRITEs (eSPecially Red Intermediate-luminosity Transient Events). SPRITEs are in the infrared luminosity gap between novae and supernovae, with [4.5] absolute magnitudes between −11 and −14 (Vega-mag) and [3.6]–[4.5] colors between 0.3 mag and 1.6 mag. The photometric evolution of SPRITEs is diverse, ranging from <0.1 mag yr−1 to >7 mag yr−1. SPRITEs occur in star-forming galaxies. We present an in-depth study of one of them, SPIRITS 14ajc in Messier 83, which shows shock-excited molecular hydrogen emission. This shock may have been triggered by the dynamic decay of a non-hierarchical system of massive stars that led to either the formation of a binary or a protostellar merger.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical And Space Sciences, 0305 Organic Chemistry, 0306 Physical Chemistry (Incl. Structural)
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: American Astronomical Society
Date Deposited: 17 May 2017 11:02
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2017 02:43
DOI or Identification number: 10.3847/1538-4357/aa6978
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6445

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