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Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are well-known for their use in the measurement of cosmological distances, but our continuing lack of concrete knowledge about their progenitor stars is both a matter of debate and a source of systematic error. In our attempts to answer this question, we presented unambiguous evidence that LMC SNR 0509-67.5, the remnant of an SN Ia that exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud 400 ± 50 yr ago, did not have any point sources (stars) near the site of the original supernova explosion, from which we concluded that this particular supernova must have had a progenitor system consisting of two white dwarfs. There is, however, evidence of nebulosity near the center of the remnant, which could have been left over detritus from the less massive WD, or could have been a background galaxy unrelated to the supernova explosion. We obtained long-slit spectra of the central nebulous region using GMOS on Gemini South to determine which of these two possibilities is correct. The spectra show Hα emission at a redshift of z = 0.031, which implies that the nebulosity in the center of LMC SNR 0509-67.5 is a background galaxy, unrelated to the supernova. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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Astrophysical Journal