Super-luminous supernovae of type Ic have a tendency to occur in faint host galaxies which are likely to have low mass and low metallicity. PTF12dam is one of the closest and best studied super-luminous explosions that has a broad and slowly fading lightcurve similar to SN 2007bi. These events have been previously proposed to be pair-instability explosions of very massive stars in metal poor, dwarf galaxies. An alternative explanation is that they are powered by spinning down magnetars and this model fits the published data well. Here we present new photometry and spectroscopy for PTF12dam from 200-500 days (rest-frame) after peak and a detailed analysis of the host galaxy (SDSS J142446.21+461348.6 at z = 0.107). Using deep templates and image subtraction we show that the full lightcurve can be fit with a magnetar model if escape of high-energy gamma rays is taken into account. The full bolometric lightcurve from -53 to +399 days (with respect to peak) cannot be fit satisfactorily with the pair-instability models. An alternative model of interaction with a dense CSM produces a good fit to the data although the physical configuration of the progenitor system is somewhat contrived. The host galaxy is a compact dwarf (M_g = -19.30 +/- 0.10), low mass system (2.8 x 10^8 M_sun) with a high star-formation rate (5.0 M_sun/year). The remarkably strong nebular lines provide detections of the [O III] lambda 4363 and [O II] lambdalambda 7320,7330 auroral lines and an accurate oxygen abundance of 12 + log(O/H) = 8.04 +- 0.09. This adds weight to previous results that the hosts of type Ic super-luminous supernovae are all metal poor, low mass, high star-formation rate galaxies. We show here that they are at the extreme end of the metallicity distribution of dwarf galaxies and propose that low metallicity is a requirement to produce these rare and peculiar supernovae.
T.-W.Chen et al.