Supernova shock breakout through a wind

Shmuel Balberg*, Abraham Loeb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The breakout of a supernova shock wave through the progenitor star's outer envelope is expected to appear as an X-ray flash. However, if the supernova explodes inside an optically thick wind, the breakout flash is delayed. We present a simple model for estimating the conditions at shock breakout in a wind based on the general observable quantities in the X-ray flash light curve; the total energy EX, and the diffusion time after the peak, tdiff. We base the derivation on the self-similar solution for the forward-reverse shock structure expected for an ejecta plowing through a pre-existing wind at large distances from the progenitor's surface. We find simple quantitative relations for the shock radius and velocity at breakout. By relating the ejecta density profile to the pre-explosion structure of the progenitor, the model can also be extended to constrain the combination of explosion energy and ejecta mass. For the observed case of XRO08109/SN2008D, our model provides reasonable constraints on the breakout radius, explosion energy and ejecta mass, and predicts a high shock velocity which naturally accounts for the observed non-thermal spectrum.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1715-1720
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Shock waves
  • Stars: winds, outflows
  • Supernovae: general
  • Supernovae: individual: SN 2008D


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