Journal Article

On luminous blue variables as the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae, especially Type IIn supernovae

V. V. Dwarkadas

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 412, issue 3, pages 1639-1649
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
On luminous blue variables as the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae, especially Type IIn supernovae

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Luminous blue variable (LBV) stars are very massive, luminous, unstable stars that suffer frequent eruptions. In the last few years, these stars have been proposed as the direct progenitors of some core-collapse supernovae (SNe), particularly Type IIn SNe, in conflict with stellar evolution theory. In this paper we investigate various scenarios wherein LBV stars have been suggested as the immediate progenitors of SNe. Many of these suggestions stem from the fact that the SNe appear to be expanding in a high-density medium, which has been interpreted as resulting from a wind with a high mass-loss rate. Others arise due to perceived similarities between the SN characteristics and those of LBVs. Only in the case of SN 2005gl do we find a valid possibility for an LBV-like progenitor. Other scenarios encounter various levels of difficulty. The evidence that points to LBVs as direct core-collapse SNe progenitors is far from convincing. High mass-loss rates are often deduced by making assumptions regarding the wind parameters, which are contradicted by the results themselves. A high density need not necessarily imply a high wind mass-loss rate: wind shocks sweeping up the surrounding medium may give a high-density shell with a low associated wind mass-loss rate. High densities may also arise due to wind clumps, or due to a previous LBV phase before the SN explodes as a WolfRayet (WR) star. Some Type IIn SNe appear to signify more a phase in the life of an SN than a class of SNe, and may arise from more than one type of progenitor. A WR phase that lasts for a few thousand years or less could be one of the more probable progenitors of Type IIns, and channels for creating short-lived WR phases are briefly discussed.

Keywords: circumstellar matter; stars: massive; stars: mass-loss; supernovae: individual: 2005gl; stars: winds, outflows; stars: Wolf–Rayet

Journal Article.  12250 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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