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'On the red supergiant problem': a rebuttal, and a consensus on the upper mass cut-off for II-P progenitors

Davies, B and Beasor, ER (2020) 'On the red supergiant problem': a rebuttal, and a consensus on the upper mass cut-off for II-P progenitors. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters, 496 (1). L142-L146. ISSN 1745-3933

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The red supergiant (RSG) problem describes the claim that the brightest RSG progenitors to Type II-P supernovae (SNe) are significantly fainter than RSGs in the field. This mismatch has been interpreted by several authors as being a manifestation of the mass threshold for the production of black holes (BHs), such that stars with initial masses above a cut-off of Mhi = 17 M and below 25 M will die as RSGs, but with no visible SN explosion as the BH is formed. However, we have previously cautioned that this cut-off is more likely to be higher and has large uncertainties (Mhi = 19+4-2M), meaning that the statistical significance of the RSG problem is less than 2. Recently, Kochanek has claimed that our work is statistically flawed, and with his analysis has argued that the upper mass cut-off is as low as Mhi = 15.7 0.8M, giving the RSG problem a significance of 10. In this letter, we show that Kochanek s low cut-off is caused by a statistical misinterpretation, and the associated fit to the progenitor mass spectrum can be ruled out at the 99.6 per cent confidence level. Once this problem is remedied, Kochanek s best fit becomes Mhi = 19+4-2M, in excellent agreement with our work. Finally, we argue that, in the search for an RSG vanishing as it collapses directly to a BH, any such survey would have to operate for decades before the absence of any such detection became statistically significant.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters ©: 2020 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Science & Technology; Physical Sciences; Astronomy & Astrophysics; stars: evolution; stars: massive; supergiants; supernovae: general; STARS; astro-ph.SR; astro-ph.SR; astro-ph.GA; astro-ph.HE; 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences; Astronomy & Astrophysics
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Oxford University Press
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 09 May 2022 11:13
Last Modified: 09 May 2022 11:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1093/mnrasl/slaa102
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16777
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