A physical model of mass ejection in failed supernovae

Eric R. Coughlin, Eliot Quataert, Rodrigo Fernández, Daniel Kasen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


During the core collapse of massive stars, the formation of the proto-neutron star is accompanied by the emission of a significant amount of mass energy (~0.3M) in the form of neutrinos. This mass-energy loss generates an outward-propagating pressure wave that steepens into a shock near the stellar surface, potentially powering a weak transient associated with an otherwise-failed supernova. We analytically investigate this mass-loss-induced wave generation and propagation. Heuristic arguments provide an accurate estimate of the amount of energy contained in the outgoing sound pulse. We then develop a general formalism for analysing the response of the star to centrally concentrated mass loss in linear perturbation theory. To build intuition, we apply this formalism to polytropic stellar models, finding qualitative and quantitative agreement with simulations and heuristic arguments. We also apply our results to realistic pre-collapse massive star progenitors (both giants and compact stars). Our analytic results for the sound pulse energy, excitation radius, and steepening in the stellar envelope are in good agreement with full time-dependent hydrodynamic simulations.We show that prior to the sound pulses arrival at the stellar photosphere, the photosphere has already reached velocities ~20-100 per cent of the local sound speed, thus likely modestly decreasing the stellar effective temperature prior to the star disappearing. Our results provide important constraints on the physical properties and observational appearance of failed supernovae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1225-1238
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 11 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Black hole physics
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Methods: Analytical
  • Shock waves
  • Supernovae: General
  • Waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'A physical model of mass ejection in failed supernovae'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this