Spectropolarimetry of the Thermonuclear Supernova SN 2021rhu: High Calcium Polarization 79 Days after Peak Luminosity
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We report spectropolarimetric observations of the Type Ia supernova (SN) SN 2021rhu at four epochs: 7, +0, +36, and +79 days relative to its B-band maximum luminosity. A wavelength-dependent continuum polarization peaking at 3890 93 and reaching a level of % was found. The peak of the polarization curve is bluer than is typical in the Milky Way, indicating a larger proportion of small dust grains along the sight line to the SN. After removing the interstellar polarization, we found a pronounced increase of the polarization in the Ca ii near-infrared triplet, from 0.3% at day 7 to 2.5% at day +79. No temporal evolution in high-resolution flux spectra across the Na i D and Ca ii H and K features was seen from days +39 to +74, indicating that the late-time increase in polarization is intrinsic to the SN as opposed to being caused by scattering of SN photons in circumstellar or interstellar matter. We suggest that an explanation for the late-time rise of the Ca ii near-infrared triplet polarization may be the alignment of calcium atoms in a weak magnetic field through optical excitation/pumping by anisotropic radiation from the SN.