SN 2009ip and SN 2010mc: Core-collapse type IIn supernovae arising from blue supergiants

Nathan Smith, Jon C. Mauerhan, Jose L. Prieto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


The recent supernova (SN) known as SN 2009ip had dramatic precursor eruptions followed by an even brighter explosion in 2012. Its pre-2012 observations make it the best documented SN progenitor in history, but have fuelled debate about the nature of its 2012 explosion - whether it was a true SN or some type of violent non-terminal event. Both could power shock interaction with circumstellar material (CSM), but only a core-collapse SN provides a self-consistent explanation. The persistent broad emission lines in the spectrum require a relatively large ejecta mass, and a corresponding kinetic energy of at least 1051 erg, while the faint 2012a event is consistent with published models of core-collapse SNe from compact (̃60 R⊙) blue supergiants. The light curves of SN 2009ip and another Type IIn, SN 2010mc, were nearly identical; we demonstrate that their spectra match as well, and that both are standard SNe IIn. Our observations contradict the recent claim that the late-time spectrum of SN 2009ip is returning to its progenitor's luminous blue variable-like state, and we show the that late-time spectra of SN 2009ip closely resemble the spectra of SN 1987A. Moreover, SN 2009ip's changing Hα equivalent width after explosion matches behaviour typically seen in core-collapse SNe IIn. Several key facts about SN 2009ip and SN 2010mc argue strongly in favour of a core-collapse interpretation, and make a non-terminal 1050 erg event implausible. The most straightforward and self-consistent interpretation is that SN 2009ip was an initially faint core-collapse explosion of a blue supergiant that produced about half as much 56Ni as SN 1987A, with most of the peak luminosity from CSM interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1191-1207
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Outflows
  • Stars: evolution
  • Stars: winds
  • Supernovae: general
  • Supernovae: individual: SN 2009ip
  • Supernovae: individual: SN 2010mc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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