Discovery of the dust-enshrouded PROGENITOR of SN 2008S with SPITZER

José L. Prieto, Matthew D. Kistler, Todd A. Thompson, Hasan Yüksel, Christopher S. Kochanek, Krzysztof Z. Stanek, John F. Beacom, Paul Martini, Anna Pasquali, Jill Bechtold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


We report the discovery of the progenitor of the recent Type IIn SN 2008S in the nearby galaxy NGC 6946. Surprisingly, it was not found in deep, preexplosion optical images of its host galaxy taken with the Large Binocular Telescope, but only through examination of archival Spitzer mid-IR data. A source coincident with the SN 2008S position is clearly detected in the 4.5, 5.8, and 8.0 μm IRAC bands, showing no evident variability in the 3 years prior to the explosion, yet is undetected at 3.6 and 24 μm. The distinct presence of ~440 K dust, along with stringent LBT limits on the optical fluxes, suggests that the progenitor of SN 2008S was engulfed in a shroud of its own dust. The inferred luminosity of ≈3.5 × 104 L⊙ implies a modest mass of ~10 M⊙. We conclude that objects like SN 2008S are not exclusively associated with the deaths or outbursts of very massive η Carinae-like objects. This conclusion holds based solely on the optical flux limits even if our identification of the progenitor with the mid-IR source is incorrect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L9-L12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Stars: Evolution
  • Supernovae: General
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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