Analytic Light Curves of Dense CSM Shock Breakout and Cooling

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Dense circumstellar material (CSM) is thought to play an important role in observed luminous optical transients: if such CSM is shocked, e.g., by ejecta expelled from the progenitor during core-collapse, then radiation produced by the shock-heated CSM can power bright UV/optical emission. If the initial CSM has an "outer edge"where most of the mass is contained and at which the optical depth is large, then shock breakout - when photons are first able to escape the shocked CSM - occurs near it. The rather thin shell of shocked CSM subsequently expands, and in the ensuing cooling-envelope phase, radiative and adiabatic losses compete to expend the CSM thermal energy. Here we derive an analytic solution to the bolometric light curve produced by such shocked CSM. For the first time, we provide an analytic solution to the cooling-envelope phase that is applicable starting from shock breakout and until the expanding CSM becomes optically thin. In particular, we account for the planar CSM geometry that is relevant at early times and properly treat radiative losses within this planar phase. We show that these effects can dramatically impact the resulting light curves, particularly if the CSM optical depth is only marginally larger than c/v sh (where v sh is the shock velocity). This has important implications for interpreting observed fast optical transients, which have previously been modeled using either computationally expensive numerical simulations or more simplified models that do not properly capture the early light-curve evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number238
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.


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