Episodic mass loss and pre-SN circumstellar envelopes

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I discuss observational clues concerning episodic mass-loss properties of massive stars in the time before the final supernova explosion. In particular, I will focus on the mounting evidence that LBVs and related stars are candidates for supernova progenitors, even though current paradigms place them at the end of core-H burning. Namely, conditions in the immediate circumstellar environment within a few 102 AU of Type IIn supernovae require very high progenitor mass-loss rates. Those rates are so high that the only known stars that come close are LBVs during rare giant eruptions. I will highlight evidence from observations of some recent extraordinary supernovae suggesting that explosive or episodic mass loss (a.k.a. LBV eruptions like the 19th century eruption of Eta Car) occur in the 5-10 years immediately preceding the SN. Finally, I will discuss some implications for stellar evolution from these SNe, the most important of which is the observational fact that the most massive stars can indeed make it to the ends of their lives with substantial H envelopes intact, even at Solar metallicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-200
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS250
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Shock waves
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: mass loss
  • Stars: winds, outflows
  • Supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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