A solar-type star polluted by calcium-rich supernova ejecta inside the supernova remnant RCW 86

Abstract

When a massive star in a binary system explodes as a supernova, its companion star may be polluted with heavy elements from the supernova ejecta. Such pollution has been detected in a handful of post-supernova binaries1, but none of them is associated with a supernova remnant. We report the discovery of a binary G star strongly polluted with calcium and other elements at the position of the candidate neutron star [GV2003] N within the young galactic supernova remnant RCW 86. Our discovery suggests that the progenitor of the supernova that produced RCW 86 could have been a moving star, which exploded near the edge of its wind bubble and lost most of its initial mass because of common-envelope evolution shortly before core collapse, and that the supernova explosion might belong to the class of calcium-rich supernovae — faint and fast transients2,3, the origin of which is strongly debated46.

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Figure 1: SNR RCW 86 and [GV2003] N.
Figure 2: Keplerian fits to the measured radial velocities for different orbital periods and eccentricities.
Figure 3: Portion of the VLT/FORS2 spectrum of the optical counterpart of [GV2003] N.
Figure 4: Elemental abundances of the optical counterpart of [GV2003] N.

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Acknowledgements

This work is based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, Chile, under programmes 095.D-0061 and 385.D-0198(A). V.V.G. thanks M. G. Revnivtsev (who passed away in November 2016) and M. R. Gilfanov for discussions and acknowledges support from the Russian Science Foundation grant 14-12-01096. This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. NSF PHY11-25915.

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V.V.G. and N.L. led the project and the manuscript writing. V.V.G., N.L., L.F. and D.C.-J.B. wrote the telescope proposals. L.F. reduced the VLT/FORS2 spectra, performed the spectral analysis and analysed the radial velocity measurements. S.J. and D.C.-J.B performed and analysed the radio observations. I.Y.G. performed the PSF photometry. J.G. and A.R. performed the GROND observations and the SED fitting. N.C. performed part of the absolute wavelength calibration of the VLT/FORS2 spectra and worked on the removal of the spatially variable Hα emission. T.M.T. performed the Monte Carlo simulations of supernova explosions in binary systems. Figures were prepared by V.V.G., N.L., L.F., A.R. and T.M.T. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the data and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Vasilii V. Gvaramadze or Norbert Langer.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Sections 1–4, Supplementary References, Supplementary Figures 1–3 and Supplementary Tables 1–2. (PDF 277 kb)

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Gvaramadze, V., Langer, N., Fossati, L. et al. A solar-type star polluted by calcium-rich supernova ejecta inside the supernova remnant RCW 86. Nat Astron 1, 0116 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-017-0116

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