Time-resolved Polarimetry of the Superluminous SN 2015bn with the Nordic Optical Telescope

Giorgos Leloudas, Justyn R. Maund, Avishay Gal-Yam, Tapio Pursimo, Eric Hsiao, Daniele Malesani, Ferdinando Patat, Ugarte Postigo, Antonio de Ugarte Postigo, Jesper Sollerman, Maximilian D. Stritzinger, J. Craig Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present imaging polarimetry of the superluminous supernova SN 2015bn, obtained over nine epochs between −20 and +46 days with the Nordic Optical Telescope. This was a nearby, slowly evolving Type I superluminous supernova that has been studied extensively and for which two epochs of spectropolarimetry are also available. Based on field stars, we determine the interstellar polarization in the Galaxy to be negligible. The polarization of SN 2015bn shows a statistically significant increase during the last epochs, confirming previous findings. Our well-sampled imaging polarimetry series allows us to determine that this increase (from ~0.54% to gsim1.10%) coincides in time with rapid changes that took place in the optical spectrum. We conclude that the supernova underwent a "phase transition" at around +20 days, when the photospheric emission shifted from an outer layer, dominated by natal C and O, to a more aspherical inner core, dominated by freshly nucleosynthesized material. This two-layered model might account for the characteristic appearance and properties of Type I superluminous supernovae.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017


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