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Published September 11, 2017 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

Pre-supernova outbursts via wave heating in massive stars – I. Red supergiants

Fuller, Jim ORCID icon


Early observations of supernovae (SNe) indicate that enhanced mass-loss and pre-SN outbursts may occur in progenitors of many types of SNe. We investigate the role of energy transport via waves driven by vigorous convection during late-stage nuclear burning of otherwise typical 15 M_⊙ red supergiant SN progenitors. Using MESA stellar evolution models including 1D hydrodynamics, we find that waves carry ∼10^7 L_⊙ of power from the core to the envelope during core neon/oxygen burning in the final years before core collapse. The waves damp via shocks and radiative diffusion at the base of the hydrogen envelope, which heats up fast enough to launch a pressure wave into the overlying envelope that steepens into a weak shock near the stellar surface, causing a mild stellar outburst and ejecting a small (≲1 M_⊙) amount of mass at low speed (≲50 km s^(−1)) roughly one year before the SN. The wave heating inflates the stellar envelope but does not completely unbind it, producing a non-hydrostatic pre-SN envelope density structure different from prior expectations. In our models, wave heating is unlikely to lead to luminous Type IIn SNe, but it may contribute to flash-ionized SNe and some of the diversity seen in II-P/II-L SNe.

Additional Information

© 2017 The Author Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2017 May 24. Received 2017 May 16; in original form 2017 March 8. We thank Matteo Cantiello, Bill Paxton, Stephen Ro, Maria Drout, Nathan Smith, Schuyler Van Dyk, Jeremiah Murphy, Eliot Quataert and Lars Bildsten for useful discussions. JF acknowledges partial support from NSF under grant no. AST-1205732 and through a Lee DuBridge Fellowship at Caltech. This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. NSF PHY-1125915, and by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF5076.

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August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023