The host galaxies of rapidly evolving transients in the Dark Energy Survey

DES Collaboration, E. Swann, B. P. Thomas, C. Frohmaier, L. Kelsey, M. Vincenzi

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Rapidly evolving transients (RETs), also termed fast blue optical transients (FBOTs), are a distinct class of astrophysical event. They are characterised by lightcurves that decline much faster than common classes supernovae (SNe), span vast ranges in peak luminosity and can be seen to redshifts greater than 1. Their evolution on fast timescales has hindered high quality follow-up observations, and thus their origin and explosion/emission mechanism remains unexplained. In this paper we define the largest sample of RETs to date, comprising 106 objects from the Dark Energy Survey, and perform the most comprehensive analysis of RET host galaxies. Using deep-stacked photometry and emission-lines from OzDES spectroscopy, we derive stellar masses and star-formation rates (SFRs) for 49 host galaxies, and metallicities for 37. We find that RETs explode exclusively in star-forming galaxies and are thus likely associated with massive stars. Comparing RET hosts to samples of host galaxies of other explosive transients as well as field galaxies, we find that RETs prefer galaxies with high specific SFRs, indicating a link to young stellar populations, similar to stripped-envelope SNe. RET hosts appear to show a lack of chemical enrichment, their metallicities akin to long duration gamma-ray bursts and superluminous SN host galaxies. There are no clear relationships between properties of the host galaxies and the peak magnitudes or decline rates of the transients themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2575–2593
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date17 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • astro-ph.GA
  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: photometry
  • galaxies: star formation
  • transients: supernovae


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