The unprecedented 2012 outburst of SN 2009ip: A luminous blue variable star becomes a true supernova

Jon C. Mauerhan, Nathan Smith, Alexei V. Filippenko, Kyle B. Blanchard, Peter K. Blanchard, Chadwick F.E. Casper, S. Bradley Cenko, Kelsey I. Clubb, Daniel P. Cohen, Kiera L. Fuller, Gary Z. Li, Jeffrey M. Silverman

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167 Scopus citations

Abstract

Some reports of supernova (SN) discoveries turn out not to be true core-collapse explosions. One such case was SN 2009ip, which was recognized to be the eruption of a luminous blue variable (LBV) star. This source had a massive (50-80M), hot progenitor star identified in pre-explosion data; it had documented evidence of pre-outburst variability and it was subsequently discovered to have a second outburst in 2010. In 2012, the source entered its third known outburst. Initial spectra showed the same narrow-line profiles as before, suggesting another LBV-like eruption. We present new photometry and spectroscopy of SN 2009ip, indicating that the 2012 outburst transitioned into a genuine SN explosion. The most striking aspect of these data is that unlike any previous episodes, the spectrum developed Balmer lines with very broad P-Cygni profiles characteristic of normal Type II supernovae (SNe II), in addition to overlying narrow emission components. The emission lines exhibit unprecedented (for any known non-terminal LBV-like eruption) full width at half-maximum intensity values of ~8000 km s-1, while the absorption components seen just before the main brightening had blue wings extending out to -13 000 km s-1. These velocities are typical of core-collapse SN explosions, but have never been associated with emission lines from a non-terminal LBV-like eruption. SN 2009ip is the first object to have both a known massive blue progenitor star and LBV-like eruptions with accompanying spectra observed a few years prior to becoming a SN. Immediately after the broad lines first appeared, the peak absolute magnitude of MV ~-14.5 was fainter than that of normal SNe II. However, after a brief period of fading, the source quickly brightened again to MR = -17.5 mag in ~2 d, suggesting a causal link to the prior emergence of the broad-line spectrum. Once the bright phase began, the broad lines mostly disappeared, and the spectrum resembled the early optically thick phases of luminous SNe IIn. The source reached a peak brightness of -18 mag about 2 weeks later, after which broad emission lines again developed in the spectrum as the source faded. We conclude that the most recent 2012 outburst of SN 2009ip was the result of a true core-collapse SN IIn that occurred when the progenitor star was in an LBV-like outburst phase, and where the SN was initially faint and then rapidly brightened due to interaction with circumstellar material. The pulsational pair instability, LBV-like eruptions or other instabilities due to interaction with circumstellar material. The pulsational pair instability, LBV-like eruptions or other instabilities due to late nuclear burning phases in massive stars may have caused the multiple pre-SN eruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1801-1810
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume430
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Circumstellar matter
  • Outflows
  • Stars:Winds
  • Stars:evolution
  • Supernovae:general
  • Supernovae:individual:Sn 2009ip

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Mauerhan, J. C., Smith, N., Filippenko, A. V., Blanchard, K. B., Blanchard, P. K., Casper, C. F. E., Cenko, S. B., Clubb, K. I., Cohen, D. P., Fuller, K. L., Li, G. Z., & Silverman, J. M. (2013). The unprecedented 2012 outburst of SN 2009ip: A luminous blue variable star becomes a true supernova. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 430(3), 1801-1810. https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stt009