The Very Young Type Ia Supernova 2012Cg: Discovery and Early-Time Follow-Up Observations
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On 2012 May 17.2 UT, only 1.5 +/- 0.2 days after explosion, we discovered SN 2012cg, a Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) in NGC 4424 (d approximate to 15 Mpc). As a result of the newly modified strategy employed by the Lick Observatory Supernova Search, a sequence of filtered images was obtained starting 161 s after discovery. Utilizing recent models describing the interaction of supernova (SN) ejecta with a companion star, we rule out a similar to 1 M-circle dot companion for half of all viewing angles and a red-giant companion for nearly all orientations. SN 2012cg reached a B-band maximum of 12.09 +/- 0.02 mag on 2012 June 2.0 and took similar to 17.3 days from explosion to reach this, typical for SNe Ia. Our pre-maximum-brightness photometry shows a narrower-than-average B-band light curve for SN 2012cg, though slightly overluminous at maximum brightness and with normal color evolution (including some of the earliest SN Ia filtered photometry ever obtained). Spectral fits to SN 2012cg reveal ions typically found in SNe Ia at early times, with expansion velocities greater than or similar to 14,000 km s(-1) at 2.5 days past explosion. Absorption from C II is detected early, as well as high-velocity components of both Si II lambda 6355 and Ca II. Our last spectrum (13.5 days past explosion) resembles that of the somewhat peculiar SN Ia 1999aa. This suggests that SN 2012cg will have a slower-than-average declining light curve, which may be surprising given the faster-than-average rising light curve.