Discovery of the Extremely Energetic Supernova 2008fz


We report on the discovery and initial observations of the energetic type IIn supernova (SN), 2008fz. The optical energy emitted by SN 2008fz (based on the light curve over a 88 day period), is possibly the most ever observed for a supernova (1.4 x 10^51 erg). The event was more luminous than the type IIn SN 2006gy, but exhibited same smooth, slowly evolving light curve. As is characteristic of type IIn SN, the early spectra of 2008fz initially exhibited narrow Balmer lines which were replaced by a broader component at later times. The spectra also show a blue continuum with no signs of Ca or Na absorption, suggesting that there is little extinction due to intragalatic dust in the host or circumstellar material. No host galaxy is identified in prior coadded images reaching R ~ 22. From the supernova’s redshift, z=0.133, we place an upper limit on the host of M_R=-17. The presence of the SN within such a faint host follows the majority of recently discovered highly luminous SN. A possible reason for this occurrence is the very high star formation rate occurring in low-mass galaxies in combination with the low metallicity environment, which makes the production of very massive stars possible. We determine the peak absolute magnitude of the event to be M_V = -22.3 from the initial photometry and the redshift distance, placing it among the most luminous supernovae discovered.