Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Techniques for probing the effects of three-dimensional magneto-hydrodynamics in type Ia supernovae
by Penney, Robert B., Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2011, 135; 3502880
Abstract (Summary)

Understanding Type Ia Supernovae provides an opportunity to study a wide range of modern physics as well as develop a key tool in cosmology. Here, we identify and investigate new observational signatures of underlying physical processes related to the thermonuclear runaway and the flame propagation and its environment, including three-dimensional effects. Understanding these signatures requires a consistent picture of the nuclear decay processes that power the Supernova and the energy transport of the high-energy particles created by these decays. Therefore we have developed and employed methods for simulating the transport of X-rays, gamma-rays, positrons and of low energy photons through a relativistically expanding envelope. With this, we identify signatures in the light curves, spectra and, in particular, line profiles that are produced in the context of a series of explosion models for Chandrasekhar Mass White Dwarfs. These models use the framework of a delayed detonation scenario in which a deflagration front transitions to a detonation phase. We use models that allow us to separate physical effects due to the flame physics and instabilities, the deflagration to detonation transitions and the initial conditions. Results from within this framework can be used directly for a variety of scenarios for Type Ias including merging White Dwarfs and explosions of sub-Chandrasekhar mass White Dwarfs.

We found and developed X-rays as a tool to probe the outer layers of the Supernova envelope. Only models with radioactive material will show significant X-ray line fluxes during the first few months. We show that observations of these can put stringent limits on flame instabilities in delayed-detonation models, and can confirm or rule out mergers and sub-Chandrasekhar mass White Dwarfs as progenitors. Though these observations have not yet been done, the current generation of satellites are capable of observations of these spectra within about 10Mpc.

As has been shown previously, optical lightcurves provide a possible diagnostic for magnetic fields. We confirm previous results that lightcurve changes due to these fields on the order of 0.1 mag are to be expected at 200–300 days, and changes may be up to 1 mag after 2–3 years. We show that the time evolution of late-time IR line profiles can probe the magentic fields and density and chemical distributions of the Supernova. To separate magnetic field from geometrical effects, we show the need for a time series of observations starting some 3–4 months after maximum light. Up until now, current observational programs commonly take snapshots at one late-time only though, technically, early time spectra are well within reach. Although rare, those observations that have been done show signatures of an off-center deflagration-detonation transition and, at least in some cases, our results strongly suggest the presence of magnetic fields well in excess of 106G. Fields of this size can be expected to alter the evolution of the nuclear runaway which determines the initial conditions which rule the flame propagation during the explosion. With the upcoming generation of large telescopes on ground and in space, observations can be obtained routinely at distances well beyond the local group of galaxies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hoeflich, Peter A.
Commitee: Gerardy, Chris, Prosper, Harrison, Rogachev, Grigory, Yang, Wei
School: The Florida State University
Department: Physics
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 73/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Astrophysics
Keywords: Flame propagation, Magneto-hydrodynamics, Supernova, Thermonuclear runaway, Type ia supernova
Publication Number: 3502880
ISBN: 978-1-267-26254-7
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