The electron-capture origin of supernova 2018zd

Daichi Hiramatsu, D. Andrew Howell, Schuyler D. Van Dyk, Jared A. Goldberg, Keiichi Maeda, Takashi J. Moriya, Nozomu Tominaga, Ken’ichi Nomoto, Griffin Hosseinzadeh, Iair Arcavi, Curtis McCully, Jamison Burke, K. Azalee Bostroem, Stefano Valenti, Yize Dong, Peter J. Brown, Jennifer E. Andrews, Christopher Bilinski, G. Grant Williams, Paul S. SmithNathan Smith, David J. Sand, Gagandeep S. Anand, Chengyuan Xu, Alexei V. Filippenko, Melina C. Bersten, Gastón Folatelli, Patrick L. Kelly, Toshihide Noguchi, Koichi Itagaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


In the transitional mass range (~8–10 solar masses) between white dwarf formation and iron core-collapse supernovae, stars are expected to produce an electron-capture supernova. Theoretically, these progenitors are thought to be super-asymptotic giant branch stars with a degenerate O + Ne + Mg core, and electron capture onto Ne and Mg nuclei should initiate core collapse1–4. However, no supernovae have unequivocally been identified from an electron-capture origin, partly because of uncertainty in theoretical predictions. Here we present six indicators of electron-capture supernovae and show that supernova 2018zd is the only known supernova with strong evidence for or consistent with all six: progenitor identification, circumstellar material, chemical composition5–7, explosion energy, light curve and nucleosynthesis8–12. For supernova 2018zd, we infer a super-asymptotic giant branch progenitor based on the faint candidate in the pre-explosion images and the chemically enriched circumstellar material revealed by the early ultraviolet colours and flash spectroscopy. The light-curve morphology and nebular emission lines can be explained by the low explosion energy and neutron-rich nucleosynthesis produced in an electron-capture supernova. This identification provides insights into the complex stellar evolution, supernova physics, cosmic nucleosynthesis and remnant populations in the transitional mass range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-910
Number of pages8
JournalNature Astronomy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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