Bolometric light curves of aspherical shock breakout

Christopher M. Irwin, Itai Linial*, Ehud Nakar, Tsvi Piran, Re'Em Sari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The shock breakout emission is the first light that emerges from a supernova. In the spherical case, it is characterized by a brief UV flash. In an axisymmetric, non-spherical prolate explosion, the shock first breaches the surface along the symmetry axis, then peels around to larger angles, producing a breakout light curve which may differ substantially from the spherically symmetric case. We study the emergence of a non-relativistic, bipolar shock from a spherical star, and estimate the basic properties of the associated bolometric shock breakout signal. We identify four possible classes of breakout light curves, depending on the degree of asphericity. Compared to spherical breakouts, we find that the main distinguishing features of significantly aspherical breakouts are (1) a longer and fainter initial breakout flash and (2) an extended phase of slowly declining, or even rising, emission which is produced as ejecta flung out by the oblique breakout expand and cool. We find that the breakout flash has a maximum duration of roughly ∼R∗/vbo, where R∗ is the stellar radius and vbo is the velocity of the fastest moving ejecta. For a standard Wolf-Rayet progenitor, the duration of the X-ray flash seen in SN 2008D exceeds this limit, and the same holds true for the prompt X-ray emission of low-luminosity GRBs such as GRB 060218. This suggests that these events cannot be explained by an aspherical explosion within a typical Wolf-Rayet star, implying that they originate from non-standard progenitors with larger breakout radii.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5766-5785
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society.


  • hydrodynamics
  • methods: analytical
  • shock waves
  • transients: supernovae


Dive into the research topics of 'Bolometric light curves of aspherical shock breakout'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this