The dual-axis circumstellar environment of the type IIn supernova 1997eg

Jennifer L. Hoffman, Douglas C. Leonard, Ryan Chornock, Alexei V. Filippenko, Aaron J. Barth, Thomas Matheson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


We present multi-epoch spectral and spectropolarimetric observations of the Type IIn supernova (SN) 1997eg that indicate the presence of a flattened disklike concentration of circumstellar material surrounding aspherical ejecta, with which the disk is misaligned. The polarization across the broad Hα, Hβ, and He I λ5876 lines of SN 1997eg forms closed loops when viewed in the Stokes q-u plane. Such loops occur when the geometrical symmetry of one or both of the Stokes parameters across spectral lines is broken, in this case most likely by occultation of the ejecta by the equatorial circumstellar matter concentration. The polarization of the narrow Balmer lines possesses an intrinsic axis that differs by 12° from that of the elongated ejecta and probably indicates the orientation of the disklike circumstellar material. The existence of two different axes of symmetry in SN 1997eg suggests that neither rotation of the progenitor nor the influence of a companion star can be the sole mechanism creating a preferred axis within the supernova system. Our model supports the emerging hypothesis that the progenitors of some Type IIn supernovae are luminous blue variable stars, whose presupernova mass eruptions form the circumstellar shells that physically characterize the SN IIn subclass. These conclusions, which are independent of interstellar polarization effects, would have been unobservable with only a single epoch of spectropolarimetry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1186-1209
Number of pages24
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Polarization
  • Stars: Mass loss
  • Supernovae: Individual (SN 1997eg)
  • Techniques: Polarimetric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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