A decade of SN 1993J : discovery of radio wavelength effects in the expansion rate

We studied the growth of the shell-like radio structure of supernova SN 1993J in M 81 from September 1993 to October 2003 with very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) observations at the wavelengths of 3.6, 6, and 18 cm. We developed a method to accurately determine the outer radius (R) of any circularly symmetric compact radio structure such as SN 1993J. The source structure of SN 1993J remains circularly symmetric (with deviations from circularity under 2%) over almost 4000 days. We characterize the decelerated expansion of SN 1993J until approximately day 1500 after explosion with an expansion parameter m = 0.845 ± 0.005 (R ∝ tm). However, from that day onwards the expansion differs when observed at 6 and 18 cm. Indeed, at 18 cm, the expansion can be well characterized by the same m as before day 1500, while at 6 cm the expansion appears more decelerated, and is characterized by another expansion parameter, m6 = 0.788 ± 0.015. Therefore, since about day 1500 onwards, the radio source size has been progressively smaller at 6 cm than at 18 cm. These findings differ significantly from those of other authors in the details of the expansion. In our interpretation, the supernova expands with a single expansion parameter, m = 0.845 ± 0.005, and the 6 cm results beyond day 1500 are caused by physical effects, perhaps also coupled to instrumental limitations. Two physical effects may be involved: (a) a changing opacity of the ejecta to the 6 cm radiation; and (b) a radial decrease of the magnetic field in the emitting region. We also found that at 6 cm about 80% of the radio emission from the backside of the shell behind the ejecta is absorbed (our average estimate, since we cannot determine any possible evolution of the opacity), and the width of the radio shell is (31 ± 2)% of the outer radius. The shell width at 18 cm depends on the degree of assumed absorption. For 80% absorption, the width is (33.5 ± 1.7)%, and for 100% absorption, it is (37.8 ± 1.3)%. A comparison of our VLBI results with optical spectral line velocities shows that the deceleration is more pronounced in the radio than in the optical. This difference might be due to a progressive penetration of ejecta instabilities into the shocked circumstellar medium, as also suggested by other authors.
Bibliographic reference
Marcaide Osoro, Juan María, et al. (2009): A decade of SN 1993J : discovery of radio wavelength effects in the expansion rate, Astronomy and Astrophysics, vol. 505, núm. 3, pp. 927-945