Discovery of a bright radio transient in M82: a new radio supernova?

We have discovered a new bright radio transient in M82. Using the Very Large Array, we observed the nuclear region of M82 at several epochs at 22 GHz and detected a new bright radio source in this galaxy's central region. We find a flux density for this flaring source that is ~300 times larger than upper limits determined in previous observations. The flare must have started between 2007 October 29 and 2008 March 24. Over the last year, the flux density of this new source has decreased from ~100 mJy to ~11 mJy. The lightcurve (based on only three data points) can be fitted better with an exponential decay than with a power law. Based on the current data we cannot identify the nature of this transient source. However, a new radio supernova seems to be the most natural explanation. With it's flux density of more than 100 mJy, it is at least 1.5 times brighter than SN1993J in M81 at the peak of its lightcurve at 22 GHz.

VLBI observations of this radio transient showed then a shell like structure expanding with a velocity of ~21,000 km/s.

See also press release in English and German (2009 May 27).

Published in:

Brunthaler A., Menten K.M., Reid M.J., Henkel C., Bower G.C., Falcke H., 2009, A&A 499, L17
Marchili N., Martí-Vidal I., Brunthaler A. et al. 2010, A&A 509, A47
Brunthaler A., Martí-Vidal I., Menten K.M. et al. 2010, A&A 516,A27

[photo will come]

Zooming into the center of the galaxy M82, one of the nearest starburst galaxies at a distance of only 12 Million light years. The left image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), shows the body of the galaxy in blue and hydrogen gas breaking out from the central starburst in red. The VLA image (top left) clearly shows the supernova (SN 2008iz), taken in May 2008. The high-resolution VLBI images (lower right) shows an expanding shell at the scale of a few light days and proves the transient source as the result of a supernova explosion in M82. (Milde Science Communication, HST Image: /NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Radio Images: A. Brunthaler, MPIfR.)

Last modified: 13-July-2012