Interaction between the broad-lined type IC supernova 2012ap and carriers of diffuse interstellar bands

Dan Milisavljevic, Raffaella Margutti, Kyle N. Crabtree, Jonathan B. Foster, Alicia M. Soderberg, Robert A. Fesen, Jerod T. Parrent, Nathan E. Sanders, Maria R. Drout, Atish Kamble, Sayan Chakraborti, Timothy E. Pickering, S. Bradley Cenko, Jeffrey M. Silverman, Alexei V. Filippenko, Robert P. Kirshner, Paolo Mazzali, Keiichi Maeda, G. H.Howie Marion, Jozsef VinkoJ. Craig Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) are absorption features observed in optical and near-infrared spectra that are thought to be associated with carbon-rich polyatomic molecules in interstellar gas. However, because the central wavelengths of these bands do not correspond to electronic transitions of any known atomic or molecular species, their nature has remained uncertain since their discovery almost a century ago. Here we report on unusually strong DIBs in optical spectra of the broad-lined Type Ic supernova SN 2012ap that exhibit changes in equivalent width over short (≲ 30 days) timescales. The 4428 Å and 6283 Å DIB features get weaker with time, whereas the 5780 Å feature shows a marginal increase. These nonuniform changes suggest that the supernova is interacting with a nearby source of DIBs and that the DIB carriers possess high ionization potentials, such as small cations or charged fullerenes. We conclude that moderate-resolution spectra of supernovae with DIB absorptions obtained within weeks of outburst could reveal unique information about the mass-loss environment of their progenitor systems and provide new constraints on the properties of DIB carriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL5
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • ISM: lines and bands
  • ISM: molecules
  • astrochemistry
  • molecular processes
  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual (SN 2012ap)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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