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This Week at Physics

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Event Number 3519

  Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Astronomy Colloquium
New Windows into Supernova Explosions and Progenitors
Time: 3:30 pm
Place: 4421 Sterling Hall
Speaker: Jennifer Hoffman, UW Milwaukee
Abstract:
Supernovae of all types exhibit time-dependent spectropolarimetric signatures produced primarily by electron scattering. These reveal the presence of aspherical phenomena such as complex velocity structures, changing illumination, and asymmetric morphologies within the ejecta or surrounding circumstellar material. The gradual thinning of the ejecta over time also allows us to probe different scattering regions as the supernova evolves. Interpreting the time variations of spectropolarimetric signatures yields unprecedentedly detailed information about supernova explosion mechanisms, the physical processes that shape the density and velocity distributions of the ejecta and circumstellar material, and the properties of the progenitor star.

I will present an overview of supernova spectropolarimetry, highlighting recent observational and computational results. This versatile technique helps us to constrain explosion mechanisms, connect SNe with their massive progenitors (as well as other high-energy transient phenomena such as GRBs), and investigate the process of stellar evolution in other galaxies.
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