skip to main content

Title: Nebular-phase spectra of Type Ia supernovae from the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Supernova Project

The observed diversity in Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) – the thermonuclear explosions of carbon–oxygen white dwarf stars used as cosmological standard candles – is currently met with a variety of explosion models and progenitor scenarios. To help improve our understanding of whether and how often different models contribute to the occurrence of SNe Ia and their assorted properties, we present a comprehensive analysis of seven nearby SNe Ia. We obtained one to two epochs of optical spectra with Gemini Observatory during the nebular phase (>200 d past peak) for each of these events, all of which had time series of photometry and spectroscopy at early times (the first ∼8 weeks after explosion). We use the combination of early- and late-time observations to assess the predictions of various models for the explosion (e.g. double-detonation, off-centre detonation, stellar collisions), progenitor star (e.g. ejecta mass, metallicity), and binary companion (e.g. another white dwarf or a non-degenerate star). Overall, we find general consistency in our observations with spherically symmetric models for SN Ia explosions, and with scenarios in which the binary companion is another degenerate star. We also present an in-depth analysis of SN 2017fzw, a member of the subgroup of SNe Ia which appear to be transitional between the subluminous ‘91bg-like’ events and normal SNe Ia, and for which nebular-phase spectra are rare.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
2008108 1813466 1813825 1911151 1911225
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 3682-3707
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Thermonuclear Supernovae (SNe Ia) are one of the building blocks of modern cosmology and laboratories for the explosion physics of White Dwarf star/s (WD) in close binary systems. The second star may be aWD(double degenerate systems, DD), or a non-degenerated star (SD) with a main sequence star, red giant or a helium star as companion (Branch et al. 1995; Nomoto et al. 2003; Wang & Han 2012). Light curves and spectra of the explosion look similar because a ’stellar amnesia’ (H¨oflich et al. 2006). Basic nuclear physics determines the progenitor structure and the explosion physics, breaking the link between progenitor evolution, and the explosion, resulting in three main classes of explosion scenarios: a) dynamical merging of two WD and a heating on time scales of seconds (Webbink 1984; Isern et al. 2011), b) surface helium detonations on top of a WD which ignite the central C/O by a detonation wave traveling inwards (Nomoto 1982; Hoeflich & Khokhlov 1996; Kromer et al. 2010); c) compressional heating in an accreting WD approaching the Chandrasekar mass on time of up to 108 years which may originated from SD and DD systems (Whelan & Iben 1973; Piersanti et al. 2003). Simulations of the explosions depend on the inital conditions at the onset of the explosions, namely the mass and angular momentum of the WD(s). For all scenarios, diversity in SNe Ia must be expected because the WD originates from a range of Main Sequence masses (MMS < 8M ) and metallicities Z. Moreover, there is growing evidence that magnetic fields B may have to be added to the ’mix’. Only with recent advances in observations ranging from X-ray to radio, high precision spectroscopy, polarimetry and photometry and in the time-domain astronomy we obtain constraints for progenitor, on the explosion scenarios and links emerge between the progenitors and their environment with LCs and spectral signatures needed for high precision cosmology. It is too early to give final answers but we present our personal view. We will give some examples from the theory point of view and discuss future prospects with upcoming ground based, ELT, GMT and space based such as JWST, Euclide and WFIRST instruments. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are thermonuclear explosions of degenerate white dwarf stars destabilized by mass accretion from a companion star 1 , but the nature of their progenitors remains poorly understood. A way to discriminate between progenitor systems is through radio observations; a non-degenerate companion star is expected to lose material through winds 2 or binary interaction 3 before explosion, and the supernova ejecta crashing into this nearby circumstellar material should result in radio synchrotron emission. However, despite extensive efforts, no type Ia supernova (SN Ia) has ever been detected at radio wavelengths, which suggests a clean environment and a companion star that is itself a degenerate white dwarf star 4,5 . Here we report on the study of SN 2020eyj, a SN Ia showing helium-rich circumstellar material, as demonstrated by its spectral features, infrared emission and, for the first time in a SN Ia to our knowledge, a radio counterpart. On the basis of our modelling, we conclude that the circumstellar material probably originates from a single-degenerate binary system in which a white dwarf accretes material from a helium donor star, an often proposed formation channel for SNe Ia (refs.  6,7 ). We describe how comprehensive radio follow-up of SN 2020eyj-like SNe Ia can improve the constraints on their progenitor systems. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    SN 2018aoz is a Type Ia SN with aB-band plateau and excess emission in infant-phase light curves ≲1 day after the first light, evidencing an over-density of surface iron-peak elements as shown in our previous study. Here, we advance the constraints on the nature and origin of SN 2018aoz based on its evolution until the nebular phase. Near-peak spectroscopic features show that the SN is intermediate between two subtypes of normal Type Ia: core normal and broad line. The excess emission may be attributable to the radioactive decay of surface iron-peak elements as well as the interaction of ejecta with either the binary companion or a small torus of circumstellar material. Nebular-phase limits on Hαand Heifavor a white dwarf companion, consistent with the small companion size constrained by the low early SN luminosity, while the absence of [Oi] and Heidisfavors a violent merger of the progenitor. Of the two main explosion mechanisms proposed to explain the distribution of surface iron-peak elements in SN 2018aoz, the asymmetric Chandrasekhar-mass explosion is less consistent with the progenitor constraints and the observed blueshifts of nebular-phase [Feii] and [Niii]. The helium-shell double-detonation explosion is compatible with the observed lack of C spectral features, but current 1D models are incompatible with the infant-phase excess emission,BmaxVmaxcolor, and weak strength of nebular-phase [Caii]. Although the explosion processes of SN 2018aoz still need to be more precisely understood, the same processes could produce a significant fraction of Type Ia SNe that appear to be normal after ∼1 day.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    We present high-cadence optical and ultraviolet light curves of the normal Type Ia supernova (SN) 2021aefx, which shows an early bump during the first two days of observation. This bump may be a signature of interaction between the exploding white dwarf and a nondegenerate binary companion, or it may be intrinsic to the white dwarf explosion mechanism. In the case of the former, the short duration of the bump implies a relatively compact main-sequence companion star, although this conclusion is viewing-angle dependent. Our best-fit companion-shocking and double-detonation models both overpredict the UV luminosity during the bump, and existing nickel-shell models do not match the strength and timescale of the bump. We also present nebular spectra of SN 2021aefx, which do not show the hydrogen or helium emission expected from a nondegenerate companion, as well as a radio nondetection that rules out all symbiotic progenitor systems and most accretion disk winds. Our analysis places strong but conflicting constraints on the progenitor of SN 2021aefx; no current model can explain all of our observations.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are securely understood to come from the thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf as a result of binary interaction, but the nature of that binary interaction and the secondary object is uncertain. Recently, a double white dwarf model known as the dynamically driven double-degenerate double-detonation (D6) model has become a promising explanation for these events. One realization of this scenario predicts that the companion may survive the explosion and reside within the remnant as a fast moving (Vpeculiar> 1000 km s−1), overluminous (L> 0.1L) white dwarf. Recently, three objects that appear to have these unusual properties have been discovered in the Gaia survey. We obtained photometric observations of the SN Ia remnant SN 1006 with the Dark Energy Camera over four years to attempt to discover a similar star. We present a deep, high-precision astrometric proper-motion survey of the interior stellar population of the remnant. We rule out the existence of a high-proper-motion object consistent with our tested realization of the D6 scenario (Vtransverse> 600 km s−1withmr< 21 corresponding to an intrinsic luminosity ofL> 0.0176L). We conclude that such a star does not exist within the remnant or is hidden from detection by either strong localized dust or the unlikely possibility of ejection from the binary system almost parallel to the line of sight.

    more » « less