Optical to X-Ray Signatures of Dense Circumstellar Interaction in Core-collapse Supernovae

Ben Margalit, Eliot Quataert, Anna Y.Q. Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Progenitors of core-collapse supernovae (SNe) can shed significant mass to circumstellar material (CSM) in the months to years preceding core collapse. The ensuing SN explosion launches ejecta that may subsequently collide with this CSM, producing shocks that can power emissions across the electromagnetic spectrum. In this work we explore the thermal signatures of dense CSM interaction when the CSM density profile is truncated at some outer radius. CSM with optical depth >c/v (where v is the shock velocity) will produce primarily ∼blackbody optical/UV emission, whereas lower optical depth CSM will power bremsstrahlung X-ray emission. Focusing on the latter, we derive light curves and spectra of the resulting X-ray transients that include a detailed treatment of Comptonization. Due to strong photoelectric absorption, the X-ray light curve is dominated by the postinteraction phase that occurs after the shock reaches the CSM truncation radius. We treat this regime here for the first time. Using these results, we present the phase space of optical, UV, and X-ray transients as a function of CSM properties, and discuss detectability prospects. We find that ROSAT would not have been sensitive to CSM X-ray transients but that eROSITA is expected to detect many such events. Future wide-field UV missions such as the Ultraviolet Transient Astronomy Satellite will dramatically enhance sensitivity to large optical depth CSM configurations. Finally, we present a framework within which CSM properties may be directly inferred from observable features of X-ray transients. This can serve as an important tool for studying stellar mass loss using SN X-ray detections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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