The Unusually Luminous Extragalactic Nova SN 2010U
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We present observations of the unusual optical transient SN 2010U, including spectra taken 1.03 days to 15.3 days after maximum light that identify it as a fast and luminous Fe II type nova. Our multi-band light curve traces the fast decline (t(2) = 3.5 +/- 0.3 days) from maximum light (M-V = -10.2 +/- 0.1 mag), placing SN 2010U in the top 0.5% of the most luminous novae ever observed. We find typical ejecta velocities of approximate to 1100 km s(-1) and that SN 2010U shares many spectral and photometric characteristics with two other fast and luminous Fe II type novae, including Nova LMC 1991 and M31N-2007-11d. For the extreme luminosity of this nova, the maximum magnitude versus rate of decline relationship indicates a massive white dwarf (WD) progenitor with a low pre-outburst accretion rate. However, this prediction is in conflict with emerging theories of nova populations, which predict that luminous novae from massive WDs should preferentially exhibit an alternate spectral type (He/N) near maximum light.