We present a multi-epoch quantitative spectroscopic analysis of the Type IIn supernova (Type IIn SN) 1994W, an event interpreted by Chugai et al. as stemming from the interaction between the ejecta of a SN and a 0.4Msun circumstellar shell ejected 1.5yr before core collapse. During the brightening phase, our models suggest that the source of optical radiation is not unique, perhaps associated with an inner optically thick cold dense shell and outer optically thin shocked material. During the fading phase, our models support a single source of radiation, an hydrogen-rich optically thick layer with a near-constant temperature of ~7000K that recedes from a radius of 4.3e15 at a peak to 2.3e15cm 40 d later. We reproduce the hybrid narrow-core broad-wing line profile shapes of SN 1994W at all times, invoking an optically thick photosphere exclusively (i.e. without any external optically thick shell). In SN 1994W, slow expansion makes scattering with thermal electrons a key escape mechanism for photons trapped in optically thick line cores, and allows the resulting broad incoherent electron-scattering wings to be seen around narrow-line cores. In SNe with larger expansion velocities, the thermal broadening due to incoherent scattering is masked by the broad profile and the dominant frequency redshift occasioned by bulk motions. Given the absence of broad lines at all times and the very low 56Ni yields, we speculate whether SN 1994W could have resulted from an interaction between two ejected shells without core collapse. The high conversion efficiency of kinetic to thermal energy may not require a SN-like energy budget for SN1994W.
The full paper is available here: arXiv ADS -->
The model spectra presented in the paper can be downloaded here: sn1994W_model_spectra.tgz (16M).