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The 'red supergiant problem': the upper luminosity boundary of Type II supernova progenitors

Davies, B and Beasor, ER (2020) The 'red supergiant problem': the upper luminosity boundary of Type II supernova progenitors. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 493 (1). pp. 468-476. ISSN 0035-8711

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Abstract

By comparing the properties of red supergiant (RSG) supernova (SN) progenitors to those of field RSGs, it has been claimed that there is an absence of progenitors with luminosities L above log (L/L⊙) > 5.2. This is in tension with the empirical upper luminosity limit of RSGs at log (L/L⊙) = 5.5, a result known as the ‘RSG problem’. This has been interpreted as an evidence for an upper mass threshold for the formation of black holes. In this paper, we compare the observed luminosities of RSG SN progenitors with the observed RSG L-distribution in the Magellanic Clouds. Our results indicate that the absence of bright SN II-P/L progenitors in this sample can be explained at least in part by the steepness of the L-distribution and a small sample size, and that the statistical significance of the RSG problem is between 1σ and 2σ . Secondly, we model the luminosity distribution of II-P/L progenitors as a simple power law with an upper and lower cut-off, and find an upper luminosity limit of log(Lhi/L⊙)=5.20+0.17−0.11 (68 per cent confidence), though this increases to ∼5.3 if one fixes the power-law slope to be that expected from theoretical arguments. Again, the results point to the significance of the RSG problem being within ∼2σ. Under the assumption that all progenitors are the result of single-star evolution, this corresponds to an upper mass limit for the parent distribution of Mhi=19.2M⊙⁠, ±1.3M⊙(systematic)⁠, +4.5−2.3M⊙ (random; 68 per cent confidence limits).

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 20202 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2020 10:15
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2020 10:15
DOI or Identification number: 10.1093/mnras/staa174
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12681

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