SN 2006jc: A Wolf-Rayet star exploding in a dense He-rich circumstellar medium

Ryan J. Foley*, Nathan Smith, Mohan Ganeshalingam, Weidong Li, Ryan Chornock, Alexei V. Filippenko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

244 Scopus citations


We present optical photometry and spectra of the peculiar Type Ib supernova (SN) 2006jc. Strong and relatively narrow He I emission lines indicate the progenitor star exploded inside a dense circumstellar medium (CSM) rich in He. An exceptionally blue apparent continuum persists from our first spectrum obtained 15 days after discovery through our last spectrum ∼1 month later. Based on the presence of isolated Fe II emission lines, we interpret the blue "continuum" as blended, perhaps fluorescent, Fe emission. One or two of the reddest He I line profiles in our spectra are double-peaked, suggesting that the CSM has an aspherical geometry. The He I lines that are superposed on the blue continuum show P Cygni profiles, while the redder He I lines do not, implying that the blue continuum also originates from an asymmetric mass distribution. The He-rich CSM, aspherical geometry, and line velocities indicate that the progenitor star was a WNE Wolf-Rayet (W-R) star. A recent (2 years before the SN), coincident, luminous outburst similar to those seen in luminous blue variables (LBVs) is the leading candidate for the dense CSM. Such an eruption associated with a W-R star has not been seen before, indicating that the progenitor star may have recently transitioned from the LBV phase. We also present unpublished spectral and photometric data on SN 2002ao, which, along with SN 1999cq, is very similar to SN 2006jc. We propose that these three objects may represent a new and distinct class of SNe arising from W-R progenitors surrounded by a dense CSM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L105-L108
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Mar 10 2007


  • Stars: Wolf-Rayet
  • Stars: winds, outflows
  • Supernovae: general
  • Supernovae: individual (SN 1999cq, SN2002ao, SN 2006jc)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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