Type II supernovae are the final stage of massive stars (above 8 M) which retain part of their hydrogen-rich envelope at the moment of explosion. They typically eject up to 15 M of material, with peak magnitudes of −17.5 mag and energies in the order of 1051 erg, which can be explained by neutrino-driven explosions and neutron star formation. Here, we present our study of OGLE-2014-SN-073, one of the brightest type II supernovae ever discovered, with an unusually broad lightcurve combined with high ejecta velocities. From our hydrodynamical modelling, we infer a remarkable ejecta mass of 60 - 16 + 42 M and a relatively high explosion energy of 12 .4 - 5 .9 + 13 .0 × 1 0 51 erg. We show that this object belongs, along with a very small number of other hydrogen-rich supernovae, to an energy regime that is not explained by standard core-collapse neutrino-driven explosions. We compare the quantities inferred by the hydrodynamical modelling with the expectations of various exploding scenarios and attempt to explain the high energy and luminosity released. We find some qualitative similarities with pair-instability supernovae, although the prompt injection of energy by a magnetar seems to be a viable alternative explanation for such an extreme event.

  • Subscribe to Nature Astronomy for full access:



Additional access options:

Already a subscriber?  Log in  now or  Register  for online access.


  1. 1.

    Richardson, D. et al. A comparative study of the absolute magnitude distributions of supernovae. Astron. J. 123, 745–752 (2002).

  2. 2.

    Janka, H.-T. Explosion mechanisms of core-collapse supernovae. Annu. Rev. Nucl. Part. Sci. 62, 407–451 (2012).

  3. 3.

    Wyrzykowski, Ł. et al. OGLE-IV real-time transient search. Acta Astron. 64, 197–232 (2014).

  4. 4.

    Udalski, A., Szymański, M. K. & Szymański, G. OGLE-IV: fourth phase of the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment. Acta Astron. 65, 1–38 (2015).

  5. 5.

    Blagorodnova, N. et al. PESSTO spectroscopic classification of optical transients. The Astronomer’s Telegram 6489 (2014).

  6. 6.

    Smartt, S. J. et al. PESSTO: survey description and products from the first data release by the Public ESO Spectroscopic Survey of Transient Objects. Astron. Astrophys. 579, A40 (2015).

  7. 7.

    Dark Energy Survey Collaboration. The Dark Energy Survey: more than dark energy—an overview. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 460, 1270–1299 (2016).

  8. 8.

    Da Cunha, E., Charlot, S. & Elbaz, D. A simple model to interpret the ultraviolet, optical and infrared emission from galaxies. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 388, 1595–1617 (2008).

  9. 9.

    Chen, T.-W. et al. The host galaxy and late-time evolution of the superluminous supernova PTF12dam. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 452, 1567–1586 (2015).

  10. 10.

    Pettini, M. & Pagel, B. E. [OIII]/[NII] as an abundance indicator at high redshift. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 348, L59–L63 (2004).

  11. 11.

    Kewley, L. J. & Ellison, S. L. Metallicity calibrations and the mass–metallicity relation for star-forming galaxies. Astrophys. J. 681, 1183–1204 (2008).

  12. 12.

    Hamuy, M. & Suntzeff, N. B. SN 1987A in the LMC. III—UBVRI photometry at Cerro Tololo. AJ 99, 1146–1158 (1990).

  13. 13.

    Hamuy, M. Observed and physical properties of core-collapse supernovae. Astrophys. J. 582, 905–914 (2003).

  14. 14.

    Pumo, M. L. et al. Radiation-hydrodynamical modelling of underluminous type II plateau supernovae. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 464, 3013–3020 (2017).

  15. 15.

    Zampieri, L. et al. Peculiar, low-luminosity type II supernovae: low-energy explosions in massive progenitors? Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 338, 711–716 (2003).

  16. 16.

    Pumo, M. L. & Zampieri, L. Radiation-hydrodynamical modeling of core-collapse supernovae: light curves and the evolution of photospheric velocity and temperature. Astrophys. J. 741, 41 (2011).

  17. 17.

    Müller, B., Heger, A., Liptai, D. & Cameron, J. B. A simple approach to the supernova progenitor-explosion connection. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 460, 742–764 (2016).

  18. 18.

    Nadyozhin, D. K. Explosion energies, nickel masses and distances of type II plateau supernovae. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 346, 97–104 (2003).

  19. 19.

    Heger, A. & Woosley, S. E. The nucleosynthetic signature of population III. Astrophys. J. 567, 532–543 (2002).

  20. 20.

    Dessart, L., Waldman, R., Livne, E., Hillier, D. J. & Blondin, S. Radiative properties of pair-instability supernova explosions. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 428, 3227–3251 (2013).

  21. 21.

    Kozyreva, A., Blinnikov, S., Langer, N. & Yoon, S.-C. Observational properties of low-redshift pair instability supernovae. Astron. Astrophys. 565, A70 (2014).

  22. 22.

    Woosley, S. E. Pulsational-pair instability supernovae. Astrophys. J. 836, 244 (2017).

  23. 23.

    Dessart, L., Hillier, D. J., Audit, E., Livne, E. & Waldman, R. Models of interacting supernovae and their spectral diversity. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 458, 2094–2121 (2016).

  24. 24.

    Arnett, W. D. On the theory of type I supernovae. Astrophys. J. 230, L37–L40 (1979).

  25. 25.

    Galama, T. J. et al. An unusual supernova in the error box of the γ-ray burst of 25 April 1998. Nature 395, 670–672 (1998).

  26. 26.

    Botticella, M. T. et al. Supernova 2009kf: an ultraviolet bright type IIP supernova discovered with Pan-STARRS 1 and GALEX. Astrophys. J. 717, L52–L56 (2010).

  27. 27.

    Utrobin, V. P., Chugai, N. N. & Botticella, M. T. Type IIP supernova 2009kf: explosion driven by black hole accretion? Astrophys. J. 723, L89–L92 (2010).

  28. 28.

    Taddia, F. et al. Long-rising type II supernovae from Palomar Transient Factory and Caltech Core-Collapse Project. Astron. Astrophys. 588, A5 (2016).

  29. 29.

    Berger, E. et al. The spectroscopic classification and explosion properties of SN 2009nz associated with GRB 091127 at z = 0.490. Astrophys. J. 743, 204 (2011).

  30. 30.

    Fraser, M. et al. SN 2009md: another faint supernova from a low-mass progenitor. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 417, 1417–1433 (2011).

  31. 31.

    Kushnir, D. The progenitors of core-collapse supernovae suggest thermonuclear origin for the explosions. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/1506.02655 (2015).

  32. 32.

    Thompson, T. A., Chang, P. & Quataert, E. Magnetar spin-down, hyperenergetic supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts. Astrophys. J. 611, 380–393 (2004).

  33. 33.

    MacFadyen, A. I., Woosley, S. E. & Heger, A. Supernovae, jets, and collapsars. Astrophys. J. 550, 410–425 (2001).

  34. 34.

    Gal-Yam, A. Luminous supernovae. Science 337, 927 (2012).

  35. 35.

    Inserra, C. et al. Super-luminous type Ic supernovae: catching a magnetar by the tail. Astrophys. J. 770, 128 (2013).

  36. 36.

    Kasen, D. & Bildsten, L. Supernova light curves powered by young magnetars. Astrophys. J. 717, 245–249 (2010).

  37. 37.

    Smartt, S. J. Progenitors of core-collapse supernovae. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 47, 63–106 (2009).

  38. 38.

    Meynet, G. et al. Red supergiants, luminous blue variables and Wolf–Rayet stars: the single massive star perspective. Bull. Soc. R. Sci. Liege 80, 266–278 (2011).

  39. 39.

    Vink, J. S., de Koter, A. & Lamers, H. J. L. Mass-loss predictions for O and B stars as a function of metallicity. Astron. Astrophys. 369, 574–588 (2001).

  40. 40.

    Brown, T. M. et al. Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 125, 1031–1055 (2013).

  41. 41.

    Valenti, S. et al. The diversity of type II supernova versus the similarity in their progenitors. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 459, 3939–3962 (2016).

  42. 42.

    Cappellaro, E. SNOoPY: a package for supernova photometry (Padova-Asiago Supernova Group, 2014).

  43. 43.

    Stetson, P. B. DAOPHOT—a computer program for crowded-field stellar photometry. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 99, 191–222 (1987).

  44. 44.

    Landolt, A. U. UBVRI photometric standard stars in the magnitude range 11.5–16.0 around the celestial equator. Astron. J. 104, 340–371 (1992).

  45. 45.

    Skrutskie, M. F. et al. The Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). Astron. J. 131, 1163–1183 (2006).

  46. 46.

    Chonis, T. S. & Gaskell, C. M. Setting UBVRI photometric zero-points using Sloan Digital Sky Survey ugriz magnitudes. Astron. J. 135, 264–267 (2008).

  47. 47.

    Schlafly, E. F. & Finkbeiner, D. P. Measuring reddening with Sloan Digital Sky Survey stellar spectra and recalibrating SFD. Astrophys. J. 737, 103 (2011).

  48. 48.

    Wright, E. L. A cosmology calculator for the world wide web. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 118, 1711–1715 (2006).

  49. 49.

    Bruzual, G. & Charlot, S. Stellar population synthesis at the resolution of 2003. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. 344, 1000–1028 (2003).

  50. 50.

    Chabrier, G. Galactic stellar and substellar initial mass function. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 115, 763–795 (2003).

  51. 51.

    Asplund, M., Grevesse, N., Sauval, A. J. & Scott, P. The chemical composition of the Sun. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 47, 481–522 (2009).

  52. 52.

    Kennicutt, R. C. Jr Star formation in galaxies along the Hubble sequence. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 36, 189–232 (1998).

  53. 53.

    Zampieri, L. in The Multicolored Landscape of Compact Objects and Their Explosive Origins (eds Di Salvo, T. et al.) 358–365 (2007).

  54. 54.

    Pumo, M. L., Zampieri, L. & Turatto, M. Numerical calculation of sub-luminous type II- plateau supernova events. Mem. Soc. Astron. Ital. Suppl. 14, 123 (2010).

  55. 55.

    Arnett, W. D. Analytic solutions for light curves of supernovae of type II. Astrophys. J. 237, 541–549 (1980).

Download references


We thank M. Kubiak and G. Pietrzyn′ski—former members of the OGLE team—for contributions to the collection of the OGLE photometric data. G.T., S.B., E.C., N.E.-R., A.P. and M.T. are partially supported by PRIN–INAF 2014 with the project ‘Transient Universe: unveiling new types of stellar explosions with PESSTO’. N.E.-R. acknowledges financial support from MIUR PRIN 2010–2011, ‘The dark Universe and the cosmic evolution of baryons: from current surveys to Euclid’. G.T. is also supported by the fellowship for the study of bright type II supernovae, offered by INAF–OaPD. S.J.S. acknowledges funding from EU/FP7-ERC grant agreement 291222 and Science and Technology Facilities Council of the United Kingdom grants ST/I001123/1 and ST/L000709/1. T.-W.C. acknowledges support through the Sofia Kovalevskaja Award to P. Schady from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany. T.J.M. is supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Research Activity Start-up of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (16H07413). F.T. and J.S. acknowledge support from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. M.F. acknowledges support from a Royal Society—Science Foundation Ireland University Research Fellowship. Ł.W. was supported by the Polish National Science Centre grant OPUS 2015/17/B/ST9/03167. D.A.H. and C.M. are supported by NSF 1313484. G.D. and M.S. acknowledge support from EU/FP7-ERC grant 615929 and the Weizmann-UK ‘Making Connections’ programme. A.G.-Y. is supported by EU/FP7 via ERC grant 307260, the Quantum Universe I-Core programme by the Israeli Committee for planning and funding and the Israel Science Foundation, and Kimmel and YeS awards. A.J. acknowledges funding by the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement 702538. K.M. acknowledges support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council of the United Kingdom through an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship. Z.K.-R. acknowledges support from ERC Consolidator Grant 647208. The OGLE project has received funding from the National Science Centre, Poland, grant MAESTRO 2014/14/A/ST9/00121 to A.U. This study is based on observations collected at the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, Chile, as part of PESSTO (ESO programme IDs 197.D.1075, 191.D-0935 and 188.D-3003) and observations made with ESO telescopes at the Paranal Observatory under programme 096.D-0894(A). GEMINI spectra were obtained under the GS-2015A-Q-56 programme (Principal Investigator D.A.H.). We are grateful to the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare—Laboratori Nazionali del Sud for the use of computer facilities. This project used public archival data from the DES. Funding for the DES projects was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. National Science Foundation, Ministry of Science and Education of Spain, Science and Technology Facilities Council of the United Kingdom, Higher Education Funding Council for England, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, Center of Cosmology and Astro Particle Physics at Ohio State University, Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University, Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos, Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Spain), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Germany) and the collaborating institutions in the DES, which are the Argonne National Laboratory, University of California Santa Cruz, University of Cambridge, Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Technológicas in Madrid, University of Chicago, University College London, DES–Brazil Consortium, University of Edinburgh, ETH Zürich, Fermilab, University of Illinois, Institute of Space Sciences (Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia–Spanish National Research Council), Institute for High Energy Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the associated Excellence Cluster Universe, University of Michigan, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, University of Nottingham, Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Portsmouth, SLAC National Laboratory, Stanford University, University of Sussex and Texas A&M University. This paper is also based on observations from the Las Cumbres Observatory: we thank their staff for excellent assistance. IRAF is distributed by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

Author information


  1. Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK

    • G. Terreran
    • , S. J. Smartt
    • , C. Inserra
    • , K. Maguire
    • , K. W. Smith
    • , D. R. Young
    •  & E. Kankare
  2. INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell’Osservatorio 5, 35122, Padova, Italy

    • G. Terreran
    • , M. L. Pumo
    • , L. Zampieri
    • , S. Benetti
    • , E. Cappellaro
    • , N. Elias-Rosa
    • , A. Pastorello
    •  & M. Turatto
  3. Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia G. Galilei, Università di Padova, Vicolo dell’Osservatorio 3, 35122, Padova, Italy

    • G. Terreran
  4. Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università degli studi di Catania, Via Santa Sofia 64, 95123, Catania, Italy

    • M. L. Pumo
  5. INFN - Laboratori Nazionali del Sud, Via Santa Sofia 62, 95123, Catania, Italy

    • M. L. Pumo
  6. Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraß e 1, 85748, Garching, Germany

    • T.-W. Chen
  7. Division of Theoretical Astronomy, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, National Institutes of Natural Sciences, 2-21-1 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo, 181-8588, Japan

    • T. J. Moriya
  8. The Oskar Klein Centre, Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University, AlbaNova, 10691, Stockholm, Sweden

    • F. Taddia
    •  & J. Sollerman
  9. Unidad Mixta Internacional Franco-Chilena de Astronomía (CNRS UMI 3386), Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Camino El Observatorio 1515, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile

    • L. Dessart
  10. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA

    • M. Nicholl
  11. School of Physics, O’Brien Centre for Science North, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

    • M. Fraser
  12. Warsaw University Observatory, Al. Ujazdowskie 4, 00-478, Warszawa, Poland

    • Ł. Wyrzykowski
    • , A. Udalski
    • , Z. Kostrzewa-Rutkowska
    • , S. Kozłowski
    • , P. Mróz
    • , M. Pawlak
    • , P. Pietrukowicz
    • , R. Poleski
    • , D. Skowron
    • , J. Skowron
    • , I. Soszyński
    • , M. K. Szymański
    •  & K. Ulaczyk
  13. Las Cumbres Observatory, 6740 Cortona Drive Suite 102, Goleta, CA, 93117, USA

    • D. A. Howell
    •  & C. McCully
  14. Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, Broida Hall, Mail Code 9530, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9530, USA

    • D. A. Howell
    •  & C. McCully
  15. Department of Physics, University of California, Davis, CA, 95616, USA

    • S. Valenti
  16. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK

    • G. Dimitriadis
    •  & M. Sullivan
  17. Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100, Israel

    • O. Yaron
    •  & A. Gal-Yam
  18. European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Córdova 3107, Casilla 19, Santiago, Chile

    • J. P. Anderson
  19. INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Salita Moiariello 16, 80131, Napoli, Italy

    • M. Della Valle
  20. International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, Piazza delle Repubblica, 10, 65122, Pescara, Italy

    • M. Della Valle
  21. Max-Planck-Institut fur Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, D-85741, Garching, Germany

    • A. Jerkstrand
  22. SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA, Utrecht, The Netherlands

    • Z. Kostrzewa-Rutkowska
  23. Department of Astrophysics, Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

    • Z. Kostrzewa-Rutkowska
  24. Department of Astronomy, Ohio State University, 140 West 18th Avenue, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA

    • R. Poleski
  25. Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK

    • K. Ulaczyk


  1. Search for G. Terreran in:

  2. Search for M. L. Pumo in:

  3. Search for T.-W. Chen in:

  4. Search for T. J. Moriya in:

  5. Search for F. Taddia in:

  6. Search for L. Dessart in:

  7. Search for L. Zampieri in:

  8. Search for S. J. Smartt in:

  9. Search for S. Benetti in:

  10. Search for C. Inserra in:

  11. Search for E. Cappellaro in:

  12. Search for M. Nicholl in:

  13. Search for M. Fraser in:

  14. Search for Ł. Wyrzykowski in:

  15. Search for A. Udalski in:

  16. Search for D. A. Howell in:

  17. Search for C. McCully in:

  18. Search for S. Valenti in:

  19. Search for G. Dimitriadis in:

  20. Search for K. Maguire in:

  21. Search for M. Sullivan in:

  22. Search for K. W. Smith in:

  23. Search for O. Yaron in:

  24. Search for D. R. Young in:

  25. Search for J. P. Anderson in:

  26. Search for M. Della Valle in:

  27. Search for N. Elias-Rosa in:

  28. Search for A. Gal-Yam in:

  29. Search for A. Jerkstrand in:

  30. Search for E. Kankare in:

  31. Search for A. Pastorello in:

  32. Search for J. Sollerman in:

  33. Search for M. Turatto in:

  34. Search for Z. Kostrzewa-Rutkowska in:

  35. Search for S. Kozłowski in:

  36. Search for P. Mróz in:

  37. Search for M. Pawlak in:

  38. Search for P. Pietrukowicz in:

  39. Search for R. Poleski in:

  40. Search for D. Skowron in:

  41. Search for J. Skowron in:

  42. Search for I. Soszyński in:

  43. Search for M. K. Szymański in:

  44. Search for K. Ulaczyk in:


G.T. initiated and coordinated the project, managed the follow-up campaign, carried out the photometric and spectroscopic analyses and wrote the manuscript. M.L.P. provided the hydrodynamical modelling and contributed to the preparation of the manuscript. T.-W.C. performed the host galaxy analyses. T.J.M. proposed and investigated the PISN scenario. F.T. identified the similarities of the target with SN 1987A and suggested the scaling. L.D. highlighted the issues with the interpretation of PISN and proposed the colliding shells scenario. L.Z. performed the semi-analytical modelling as a preliminary step to the full hydrodynamical modelling. S.J.S. is the principal investigator of PESSTO, through which we gathered all the observations at NTT. S.J.S. and S.B. supervised G.T., helped to coordinate the project and contributed to preparing and editing the manuscript, including final proofreading. C.I. helped with the magnetar hypothesis. E.C. and A.P. helped with theoretical interpretations, providing during preparation of the manuscript. M.N. retrieved the PISN models and helped to perform a thorough comparison of them. M.F. provided constructive criticism during preparation of the manuscript. Ł.W. was the main interlocutor with the OGLE team, providing all the data. D.A.H. was the principal investigator of the GEMINI proposal granting time from which we obtained two spectra that were reduced by C.M. and S.V. G.D. obtained the NTT observations. K.M., M.S., K.W.S., O.Y. and D.R.Y. (the PESSTO builders) helped to coordinate the observations using the NTT and administered the aspects of the PESSTO campaign. J.P.A., M.D.V., N.E.-R., A.G.-Y., A.J., E.K., J.S. and M.T. provided useful comments and advice on the first draft of the manuscript. Z.K.-R., S.K., P.M., M.P., P.P., R.P., D.S., J.S., I.S., M.K.S., A.U. and K.U. were part of the OGLE team and helped to obtain the data.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to G. Terreran.

Electronic supplementary material

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–4, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Text and Supplementary References.