Massive stars dying alone: The extremely remote environment of SN 2009ip

Nathan Smith, Jennifer E. Andrews, Jon C. Mauerhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We present late-time Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images of the site of supernova (SN) 2009ip taken almost 3 yr after its bright 2012 luminosity peak. SN 2009ip is now slightly fainter in broad filters than the progenitor candidate detected by HST in 1999. The current source continues to be dominated by ongoing late-time circumstellar material interaction that produces strong Hα emission and a weak pseudo-continuum, as found previously for 1-2 yr after explosion. The intent of these observations was to search for evidence of recent star formation in the local (~1 kpc; 10 arcsec) environment around SN 2009ip, in the remote outskirts of its host spiral galaxy NGC 7259. We can rule out the presence of any massive star-forming complexes like 30 Dor or the Carina nebula at the SN site or within a few kpc. If the progenitor of SN 2009ip was really a 50-80 M star as archival HST images suggested, then it is strange that there is no sign of this type of massive star formation anywhere in the vicinity. A possible explanation is that the progenitor was the product of a merger or binary mass transfer, rejuvenated after a lifetime that was much longer than 4-5 Myr, allowing its natal Hii region to have faded. A smaller region like the Orion nebula would be an unresolved but easily detected point source. This is ruled out within ~1.5 kpc around SN 2009ip, but a small Hii region could be hiding in the glare of SN 2009ip itself. Later images after a few more years have passed are needed to confirm that the progenitor candidate is truly gone and to test for the possibility of a small H ii region or cluster at the SN position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2904-2911
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 11 2016


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: winds, Outflows
  • Supernovae: general
  • Supernovae: individual: 2009ip

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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