The progenitor of supernova 2011dh has vanished

Schuyler D. Van Dyk, Weikang Zheng, Kelsey I. Clubb, Alexei V. Filippenko, S. Bradley Cenko, Nathan Smith, Ori D. Fox, Patrick L. Kelly, Isaac Shivvers, Mohan Ganeshalingam

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69 Scopus citations


We conducted Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Snapshot observations of the Type IIb supernova (SN) 2011dh in M51 at an age of 641 days with the Wide Field Camera 3. We find that the yellow supergiant star, clearly detected in pre-SN HST images, has disappeared, implying that this star was almost certainly the progenitor of the SN. Interpretation of the early time SN data which led to the inference of a compact nature for the progenitor, and to the expected survival of this yellow supergiant, is now clearly incorrect. We also present ground-based UBVRI light curves obtained with the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope at Lick Observatory up to SN age 70 days. From the light-curve shape including the very late time HST data, and from recent interacting binary models for SN 2011dh, we estimate that a putative surviving companion star to the now deceased yellow supergiant could be detectable by late 2013, especially in the ultraviolet. No obvious light echoes are detectable yet in the SN environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL32
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013


  • galaxies: individual (NGC 5194)
  • stars: evolution
  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual (SN 2011dh)


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