erc project on super-luminous supernovae

 Click here for a link to the erc project highlight page erclogo

 Here is a list of my refereed publications from NASA ADS, ordered by citation count

supernova progenitors

myphot I lead a group searching for the stellar progenitors of nearby core-collapse supernovae in archive images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and large ground-based telescopes. Nearby supernovae are rare (about 13 discovered every year within about 30Mpc), but many of the host galaxies have been observed by Hubble. The most massive and luminous stars are visible, and we have confidently identified the progenitors of SN2003gd, SN2005cs, SN2008ax and SN2008bk, amongst others. The summary of results are presented in Smartt et al. MNRAS 2009, "The death of massive stars I. Observational constraints on the progenitors of type II-P supernovae".   And the second paper in this series Eldridge et al. MNRAS 2013, "The death of massive stars II. Observational constraints on the progenitors of type Ibc supernovae."  My annual review article is available here :  S.J. Smartt ARAA, 2009, 47, 63  "Progenitors of core collapse SNe"    We expanded this project into the ESO NTT Large Programme "Supernovae variety and nucleosynthesis" with a broad range of european collaborators. We identify the supernovae with potential imaging from before explosion and use our VLT time to attempt to identify the progenitor stars. The NTT programme provides detailed monitoring, analysis and nucleosynthesis estimates (e.g. mass of Ni-56 ejected from the explosion).  The first paper from this new collaboration was on the detection of the progenitor of SN2009kr by Morgan Fraser et al. (ApJL, 2010).  We now run this progenitor identification project within PESSTO


myphot We are members of the Pan-STARRS 1 Science Consortium and are leading Key Project 7 "Massive stars and supernovae progenitors". The aim of this project is to study the supernovae that arise from massive progenitors and understand the physical mechanisms behind the explosions.  See our pages on Transient Searches.

explosions of the most massive stars

myphot Recent discoveries suggest that the most massive stars known (between 50-150 solar masses) may die in diverse explosions. The explosions may be gamma-ray bursts, ultra-bright type II SNe, and SNe with pre-explosion outbursts.  The most luminous type Ic SN known (SN2007bi) may be a pair-instability explosion, or the core-collapse of a massive carbon-oxygen core from a star originally 50-100 solar masses. We study the SNe and the exotic explosions that may have come from the most massive stars. See Valenti et al. 2009 Nature; Pastorello et al. 2007 NatureYoung et al. A&A ,  2010.  We showed that one of the new class of "ultra-bright" type I supernovae (SN2010gx) cannot be powered by nickel-56 decay, but must have some other mechanism that provides the enormous luminosity (absolute magnitudes up to M_B = -22). We also showed that SN2010gx turns into a type Ic at around 30 days after maximum, suggesting a Wolf-Rayet type progenitor star. See Pastorello, Smartt et al. 2010 ApJL. In 2013 we showed that the possible pair-instability candidates in the Local Universe (the 2007bi-like supernovae) have a plausible alternative explanation and could be explained by the spin down of rapidly rotating neutron stars (called magnetars). They appear to rise too fast to be pair-instability supernovae from stars with very massive cores - see Nicholl, Smartt et al. Nature, 2013,  "Slowly fading supernovae that are not pair-instability supernovae" and McCrum, Smartt et al. MNRAS, 20 14 "The superluminous supernova PS1-11ap; bridging the gap between low and high redshift. "

the flames survey of massive stars