The unusual temporal and spectral evolution of SN2011ht. II. Peculiar type IIn or impostor?

Roberta M Humphreys, Kris Davidson, Terry J Jones, R. W. Pogge, Skyler H. Grammer, José L. Prieto, T. A. Pritchard

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SN2011ht has been described both as a true supernova (SN) and as an impostor. In this paper, we conclude that it does not match some basic expectations for a core-collapse event. We discuss SN2011ht's spectral evolution from a hot dense wind to a cool dense wind, followed by the post-plateau appearance of a faster low density wind during a rapid decline in luminosity. We identify a slow dense wind expanding at only 500-600kms-1, present throughout the eruption. A faster wind speed V 900kms-1 occurred in a second phase of the outburst. There is no direct or significant evidence for any flow speed above 1000kms-1; the broad asymmetric wings of Balmer emission lines in the hot wind phase were due to Thomson scattering, not bulk motion. We estimate a mass-loss rate of order 0.05 M yr-1 during the hot dense wind phase of the event. The same calculations present difficulties for a hypothetical unseen SN blast wave. There is no evidence that the kinetic energy greatly exceeded the luminous energy, roughly 3 × 1049erg; so the radiative plus kinetic energy was small compared to a typical SN. We suggest that SN2011ht may have been a giant eruption driven by super-Eddington radiation pressure, perhaps beginning a few months before the discovery. A strongly non-spherical SN might also account for the data at the cost of more free parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number93
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 20 2012


  • supernovae: individual (SN2011ht)


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