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  1. Abstract We explore the observational appearance of the merger of a low-mass star with a white dwarf (WD) binary companion. We are motivated by recent work finding that multiple tensions between the observed properties of cataclysmic variables (CVs) and standard evolution models are resolved if a large fraction of CV binaries merge as a result of unstable mass transfer. Tidal disruption of the secondary forms a geometrically thick disk around the WD, which subsequently accretes at highly super-Eddington rates. Analytic estimates and numerical hydrodynamical simulations reveal that outflows from the accretion flow unbind a large fraction ≳90% of the secondary at velocities ∼500–1000 km s −1 within days of the merger. Hydrogen recombination in the expanding ejecta powers optical transient emission lasting about a month with a luminosity ≳10 38 erg s −1 , similar to slow classical novae and luminous red novae from ordinary stellar mergers. Over longer timescales the mass accreted by the WD undergoes hydrogen shell burning, inflating the remnant into a giant of luminosity ∼300–5000 L ⊙ , effective temperature T eff ≈ 3000 K, and lifetime ∼10 4 –10 5 yr. We predict that ∼10 3 –10 4 Milky Way giants are CV merger products,more »potentially distinguishable by atypical surface abundances. We explore whether any Galactic historical slow classical novae are masquerading CV mergers by identifying four such post-nova systems with potential giant counterparts for which a CV merger origin cannot be ruled out. We address whether the historical transient CK Vul and its gaseous/dusty nebula resulted from a CV merger.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  2. ABSTRACT The core collapse of massive, rapidly-rotating stars are thought to be the progenitors of long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRB) and their associated hyperenergetic supernovae (SNe). At early times after the collapse, relatively low angular momentum material from the infalling stellar envelope will circularize into an accretion disc located just outside the black hole horizon, resulting in high accretion rates necessary to power a GRB jet. Temperatures in the disc mid-plane at these small radii are sufficiently high to dissociate nuclei, while outflows from the disc can be neutron-rich and may synthesize r-process nuclei. However, at later times, and for high progenitor angular momentum, the outer layers of the stellar envelope can circularize at larger radii ≳ 107 cm, where nuclear reactions can take place in the disc mid-plane (e.g. 4He + 16O → 20Ne + γ). Here we explore the effects of nuclear burning on collapsar accretion discs and their outflows by means of hydrodynamical α-viscosity torus simulations coupled to a 19-isotope nuclear reaction network, which are designed to mimic the late infall epochs in collapsar evolution when the viscous time of the torus has become comparable to the envelope fall-back time. Our results address several key questions, such as the conditions for quiescent burningmore »and accretion versus detonation and the generation of 56Ni in disc outflows, which we show could contribute significantly to powering GRB SNe. Being located in the slowest, innermost layers of the ejecta, the latter could provide the radioactive heating source necessary to make the spectral signatures of r-process elements visible in late-time GRB-SNe spectra.« less
  3. Abstract We present photometric and spectroscopic observations of Supernova 2020oi (SN 2020oi), a nearby (∼17 Mpc) type-Ic supernova (SN Ic) within the grand-design spiral M100. We undertake a comprehensive analysis to characterize the evolution of SN 2020oi and constrain its progenitor system. We detect flux in excess of the fireball rise model δ t ≈ 2.5 days from the date of explosion in multiband optical and UV photometry from the Las Cumbres Observatory and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, respectively. The derived SN bolometric luminosity is consistent with an explosion with M ej = 0.81 ± 0.03 M ⊙ , E k = 0.79 ± 0.09 × 10 51 erg s −1 , and M Ni56 = 0.08 ± 0.02 M ⊙ . Inspection of the event’s decline reveals the highest Δ m 15,bol reported for a stripped-envelope event to date. Modeling of optical spectra near event peak indicates a partially mixed ejecta comparable in composition to the ejecta observed in SN 1994I, while the earliest spectrum shows signatures of a possible interaction with material of a distinct composition surrounding the SN progenitor. Further, Hubble Space Telescope pre-explosion imaging reveals a stellar cluster coincident with the event. From the clustermore »photometry, we derive the mass and age of the SN progenitor using stellar evolution models implemented in the BPASS library. Our results indicate that SN 2020oi occurred in a binary system from a progenitor of mass M ZAMS ≈ 9.5 ± 1.0 M ⊙ , corresponding to an age of 27 ± 7 Myr. SN 2020oi is the dimmest SN Ic event to date for which an early-time flux excess has been observed, and the first in which an early excess is unlikely to be associated with shock cooling.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
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  5. Abstract We present the 30 minutes cadence Kepler/K2 light curve of the Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) SN 2018agk, covering approximately one week before explosion, the full rise phase, and the decline until 40 days after peak. We additionally present ground-based observations in multiple bands within the same time range, including the 1 day cadence DECam observations within the first ∼5 days after the first light. The Kepler early light curve is fully consistent with a single power-law rise, without evidence of any bump feature. We compare SN 2018agk with a sample of other SNe Ia without early excess flux from the literature. We find that SNe Ia without excess flux have slowly evolving early colors in a narrow range ( g − i ≈ −0.20 ± 0.20 mag) within the first ∼10 days. On the other hand, among SNe Ia detected with excess, SN 2017cbv and SN 2018oh tend to be bluer, while iPTF16abc’s evolution is similar to normal SNe Ia without excess in g − i . We further compare the Kepler light curve of SN 2018agk with companion-interaction models, and rule out the existence of a typical nondegenerate companion undergoing Roche lobe overflow at viewing angles smallermore »than 45°.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022