FM16.4.04 — The quest for blue supergiants : The evolution of the progenitor of SN 1987A

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Aug 4th at 3:00 PM until 3:15 PM

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Author(s): Athira Menon1, Alexander Heger1

Institution(s): 1. Monash University

SN 1987A is historically one of the most remarkable supernova explosions to be seen from Earth. Due to the proximity of its location in the LMC, it remains the most well-studied object outside the solar system. It was also the only supernova whose progenitor was observed prior to its explosion.
SN 1987A however, was a unique and enigmatic core collapse supernova. It was the first Type II supernova to have been observed to have exploded while its progenitor was a blue supergiant (BSG). Until then Type II supernovae were expected to originate from explosions of red supergiants (RSGs). A spectacular triple-ring nebula structure, rich in helium and nitrogen, was observed around the remnant, indicating a recent RSG phase before becoming a BSG. Even today it is not entirely understood what the evolutionary history may have been to cause a BSG to explode. The most commonly accepted hypothesis for its origin is the merger of a massive binary star system.
An evolutionary scenario for such a binary system, was proposed by Podsiadlowski (1992) (P92). Through SPH simulations of the merger and the stellar evolution of the post-merger remnant, Ivanova & Podsiadlowski (2002) and (2003) (I&M) could successfully obtain the RSG to BSG transition of the progenitor.

The aim of the present work is to produce the evolutionary history of the progenitor of SN 1987A and its explosion. We construct our models based on the results of P92 and I&M. Here, the secondary (less massive) star is accreted on the primary, while being simultaneously mixed in its envelope over a period of 100 years. The merged star is evolved until the onset of core collapse. For this work we use the 1-dimensional, implicit, hydrodynamical stellar evolution code, KEPLER. A large parameter space is explored, consisting of primary (16-20 Ms) and secondary masses (5-8 Ms), mixing boundaries, and accreting timescales. Those models whose end states match the observed properties of the progenitor of SN 1987A are exploded. The nuclear yields and light curve of the explosion are then compared with the observed data of SN 1987A.