We have calculated fast direct spectral model fits to two early-time spectra of the Type II plateau SN 1999em, using the SYNOW synthetic spectrum code. The first is an extremely early blue optical spectrum and the second a combined Hubble Space Telescope and optical spectrum obtained one week later. Spectroscopically this supernova appears to be a normal Type II, and these fits are in excellent agreement with the observed spectra. Our direct analysis suggests the presence of enhanced nitrogen. We have further studied these spectra with the full non-LTE general model atmosphere code PHOENIX. While we do not find confirmation for enhanced nitrogen (nor do we rule it out), we do require enhanced helium. An even more intriguing possible line identification is complicated Balmer and He I lines, which we show falls naturally out of the detailed calculations with a shallow density gradient. We also show that very early spectra such as those presented here combined with sophisticated spectral modeling allow an independent estimate of the total reddening to the supernova, since when the spectrum is very blue, dereddening leads to changes in the blue flux that cannot be reproduced by altering the "temperature" of the emitted radiation. These results are extremely encouraging since they imply that detailed modeling of early spectra can shed light on both the abundances and total extinction of SNe II, the latter improving their utility and reliability as distance indicators.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Radiative transfer
- Stars: atmospheres
- Supernovae: individual (SN 1999em)