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The unprecedented 2012 outburst of Supernova 2009ip

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Interacting supernovae and supernova impostors are raising critical new questions about the final phases of massive star evolution. SN 2009ip is the epitome of such events, and one of the most interesting massive star explosions since SN 1987A . The progenitor is a Luminous Blue Variable (LBV) star that has produced multiple, luminous outbursts of mass over the last several years. I will present photometric and spectroscopic coverage of the most recent outburst of this object from 2012 to present. The data suggest that the source might have finally exploded as a true supernova. However, several peculiar late-time observational characteristics have called the SN hypothesis into question, and these various observational signatures and their implications will be discussed. The results have important consequences for our view of pre-SN evolution for massive stars.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Seminars series.

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