Supernovae pp 30-58 | Cite as

Spectra of Supernovae

  • David Branch
Part of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Library book series (AAL)


Ever since the spectrum of a supernova was first observed in 1885, astronomers have known that a correct reading of the spectrum would reveal otherwise unattainable information about the physical conditions and composition of the radiation source. But the spectra of supernovae resisted interpretation for a very long time. The outstanding obstacle was the great characteristic width of the spectral features150—300 Å—corresponding to Doppler broadening velocities of 5000–10,000 km s−1. Because only a dozen or so overlapping spectral features occupy the whole optical spectrum at any one time, line identifications proved to be so difficult that very little was known about Type II spectra, and even less about Type I, until around 1970. In the hope that a brief history of the subject will be interesting (if not of great utility), I attempt in Section 2.2 to outline the development of supernova spectrum interpretations, and to cite in one place most of the significant papers. Section 2.3 then presents a list of classifications of all supernovae whose spectra I have seen, and a (nearly) complete spectrum bibliography.


Optical Depth Resonant Scattering Synthetic Spectrum Large Magellanic Cloud Maximum Light 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

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  • David Branch

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