AR 16136 (Archival Research)

Thu Jul 18 14:05:38 GMT 2024

Principal Investigator: Charles Kilpatrick
PI Institution: Northwestern University
Investigators (xml)

Title: Using the full power of the HST Archive to Address the Red Supergiant Problem
Cycle: 28

Recent studies cast doubt on whether the most massive red supergiants can successfully explode as Type II supernovae. However, these studies rely on populations of red supergiants that do not include pre-explosion constraints on recently discovered Type II supernovae or the full volume of such imaging in which distant red supergiant progenitor stars might be detectable. We want to address this problem by conducting a complete, volume-limited analysis of all Type II supernovae within 60 Mpc that have pre-explosion HST imaging, totaling 68 sources. This analysis will more than double the current sample of such supernova progenitor constraints, leading to much larger statistical sample with which we can better analyze the possibility of "missing" red supergiants. In particular, recent work suggests that if red supergiants are missing due to implosion as "failed supernovae", then red supergiants in other mass ranges should also be underrepresented relative to a typical Salpeter initial mass function. With better statistics, we can test this hypothesis and better understand the evolutionary pathways and final fates of massive stars.