Reconstructing the Scene: New Views of Supernovae and Progenitors from the SNSPOL Project

Jennifer L. Hoffman, G. Grant Williams, Douglas C. Leonard, Christopher Bilinski, Luc Dessart, Leah N. Huk, Jon C. Mauerhan, Peter Milne, Amber L. Porter, Nathan Smith, Paul S. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because polarization encodes geometrical information about unresolved scattering regions, it provides a unique tool for analyzing the 3-D structures of supernovae (SNe) and their surroundings. SNe of all types exhibit time-dependent spectropolarimetric signatures produced primarily by electron scattering. These signatures reveal physical phenomena such as complex velocity structures, changing illumination patterns, and asymmetric morphologies within the ejecta and surrounding material. Interpreting changes in polarization over time yields unprecedentedly detailed information about supernovae, their progenitors, and their evolution. Begun in 2012, the SNSPOL Project continues to amass the largest database of time-dependent spectropolarimetric data on SNe. I present an overview of the project and its recent results. In the future, combining such data with interpretive radiative transfer models will further constrain explosion mechanisms and processes that shape SN ejecta, uncover new relationships among SN types, and probe the properties of progenitor winds and circumstellar material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-58
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS329
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • astronomical databases:miscellaneous
  • polarization
  • supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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