The Type Ia Supernovae Reexamined: New Information is Now Available


A team of researchers succeeded in placing stringent constraints on the origin of Type Ia supernova. They utilized advanced computer simulations to follow the blast, nuclear reaction, production of elements, and development of elemental abundances in galaxies.

Type Ia supernova is not related at all to the end of a massive star. Instead, this kind of supernova is a bright blast of a star that happens in a binary system. 

Type Ia supernovae have been utilized as a standard tool to measure the expansion of the Universe. However, the progenitor star of a Type Ia supernova is still unknown. The recent study intends to find more answers. Here is what you need to know.

Understanding Type Ia Supernovae

Type Ia supernovae produce manganese, iron, and nickel. These elements can be measured in spectral features of neighboring stars, which keep a record of supernovae from the past, similar to what fossils do in archaeology. Therefore, the development of elemental abundances in galaxies can offer a stringent constraint on Type Ia supernovae’s exact origin.

The progenitor stars of Type Ia supernovae are a kind of white dwarfs made of oxygen and carbon. If a white dwarf surpasses its upper mass limit, known as Chandrasekhar mass limit, it triggers some nuclear reactions and causes an explosion.

So, in a binary system comprising a near-Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf, the mass accretion from a companion star can influence a blast, which is one of the two proposed scenarios. 

In other scenarios, two white dwarfs emerged from a binary system and merged to cause an explosion.

Team’s Findings 

To examine both cases, the team ran advanced calculations of both near-Chandrasekhar-mass and sub-Chandrasekhar-mass blasts. Then, they calculated the development of our galaxy, something that had not been done previously.

Scientist Chiaki Kobayashi released a statement discussing the two simulations. She said: “In the first simulation, the explosion provided high-temperature and high-density matter […], while in the second simulation, there was no such matter and hence not enough manganese was produced.”

The team also showed that a more significant contribution from sub-Chandrasekhar-mass blasts is preferred to near-Chandrasekhar-mass explosions from the available surveys in various galaxies. 

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