Exploring the potential diversity of early type Ia supernova light curves

Anthony L. Piro, Viktoriya S. Morozova

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91 Scopus citations


During the first several days after explosion, Type Ia supernova light curves probe the outer layers of the exploding star, and therefore provide important clues for identifying their progenitors. We investigate how both the shallow 56Ni distribution and the presence of circumstellar material shape these early light curves. This is performed using a series of numerical experiments with parameterized properties for systematic exploration. Although not all of the considered models may be realized in nature (and indeed there are arguments why some of them should not occur), the spirit of this work is to provide a broader exploration of the diversity of possibilities. We find that shallower 56Ni leads to steeper, bluer light curves. Differences in the shape of the rise can introduce errors in estimating the explosion time, and thus impact efforts to infer upper limits on the progenitor or companion radius from a lack of observed shock cooling emission. Circumstellar material can lead to significant luminosity during the first few days, but its presence can be difficult to identify depending on the degree of nickel mixing. In some cases, the hot emission of circumstellar material may even lead to a signature similar to an interaction with a companion, and thus in the future additional diagnostics should be gathered for properly assessing early light curves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number96
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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