NMSU Astronomy

Colloquium: Jen Andrews (Host: Joe Burchett)

November 13, 2020 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Supernova Imposter Syndrome: Eruptions of Massive Stars

Jen Andrews, University of Arizona

Existing in the magnitude space between traditional supernovae (SNe) and classical novae lies a zoo of explosive and eruptive transients with maximum absolute magnitudes of MV between -10 and -15.
Traditionally interpreted as giant luminous blue variable (LBV) eruptions these often dubbed “SN imposters” likely arise from a variety of initial stellar masses and are caused by physical mechanisms ranging from instabilities in nuclear burning as the object
evolves off the main sequence to stellar mergers in binary star systems. Moreover, some individual LBV giant eruptions, including the prototypical case of Eta Car, have been proposed as massive-star merger events. All of these involve large amounts of episodic
mass loss, and many of them share observed properties that blur the distinction between categories. While their eruptions mimic those of SNe, these transients appear to all be non-terminal, leaving some form of the progenitor behind after eruption. I will
discuss this class of non-terminal transients, including the Great Eruption of the enigmatic Eta Car and a uniquely puzzling SN imposter in M74.


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