A hybrid type Ia supernova with an early flash triggered by helium-shell detonation

Ji An Jiang, Mamoru Doi, Keiichi Maeda, Toshikazu Shigeyama, Ken'ichi Nomoto, Naoki Yasuda, Saurabh W. Jha, Masaomi Tanaka, Tomoki Morokuma, Nozomu Tominaga, Željko Ivezic, Pilar Ruiz-Lapuente, Maximilian D. Stritzinger, Paolo A. Mazzali, Christopher Ashall, Jeremy Mould, Dietrich Baade, Nao Suzuki, Andrew J. Connolly, Ferdinando PatatLifan Wang, Peter Yoachim, David Jones, Hisanori Furusawa, Satoshi Miyazaki

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40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Type Ia supernovae arise from the thermonuclear explosion of white-dwarf stars that have cores of carbon and oxygen1,2. The uniformity of their light curves makes these supernovae powerful cosmological distance indicators3,4, but there have long been debates about exactly how their explosion is triggered and what kind of companion stars are involved2,5,6. For example, the recent detection of the early ultraviolet pulse of a peculiar, subluminous type Ia supernova has been claimed as evidence for an interaction between a red-giant or a main-sequence companion and ejecta from a whitedwarf explosion7,8. Here we report observations of a prominent but red optical flash that appears about half a day after the explosion of a type Ia supernova. This supernova shows hybrid features of different supernova subclasses, namely a light curve that is typical of normalbrightness supernovae, but with strong titanium absorption, which is commonly seen in the spectra of subluminous ones. We argue that this early flash does not occur through previously suggested mechanisms such as the companion-ejecta interaction8-10. Instead, our simulations show that it could occur through detonation of a thin helium shell either on a near-Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf, or on a sub-Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf merging with a lessmassive white dwarf. Our finding provides evidence that one branch of previously proposed explosion models-the helium-ignition branch-does exist in nature, and that such a model may account for the explosions of white dwarfs in a mass range wider than previously supposed11-14.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-83
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume550
Issue number7674
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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    Jiang, J. A., Doi, M., Maeda, K., Shigeyama, T., Nomoto, K., Yasuda, N., Jha, S. W., Tanaka, M., Morokuma, T., Tominaga, N., Ivezic, Ž., Ruiz-Lapuente, P., Stritzinger, M. D., Mazzali, P. A., Ashall, C., Mould, J., Baade, D., Suzuki, N., Connolly, A. J., ... Miyazaki, S. (2017). A hybrid type Ia supernova with an early flash triggered by helium-shell detonation. Nature, 550(7674), 80-83. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature23908