In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (2)

Articles by Mansi M. Kasliwal in JoVE

 JoVE Engineering

Bringing the Visible Universe into Focus with Robo-AO

1Caltech Optical Observatories, California Institute of Technology, 2Department of Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, 3Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, 4Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics, 5Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, 6Benoziyo Center for Astrophysics, Weizmann Institute of Science

Other articles by Mansi M. Kasliwal on PubMed

Exclusion of a Luminous Red Giant As a Companion Star to the Progenitor of Supernova SN 2011fe

Nature. Dec, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22170681

Type Ia supernovae are thought to result from a thermonuclear explosion of an accreting white dwarf in a binary system, but little is known of the precise nature of the companion star and the physical properties of the progenitor system. There are two classes of models: double-degenerate (involving two white dwarfs in a close binary system) and single-degenerate models. In the latter, the primary white dwarf accretes material from a secondary companion until conditions are such that carbon ignites, at a mass of 1.38 times the mass of the Sun. The type Ia supernova SN 2011fe was recently detected in a nearby galaxy. Here we report an analysis of archival images of the location of SN 2011fe. The luminosity of the progenitor system (especially the companion star) is 10-100 times fainter than previous limits on other type Ia supernova progenitor systems, allowing us to rule out luminous red giants and almost all helium stars as the mass-donating companion to the exploding white dwarf.

Supernova SN 2011fe from an Exploding Carbon-oxygen White Dwarf Star

Nature. Dec, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22170680

Type Ia supernovae have been used empirically as 'standard candles' to demonstrate the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe even though fundamental details, such as the nature of their progenitor systems and how the stars explode, remain a mystery. There is consensus that a white dwarf star explodes after accreting matter in a binary system, but the secondary body could be anything from a main-sequence star to a red giant, or even another white dwarf. This uncertainty stems from the fact that no recent type Ia supernova has been discovered close enough to Earth to detect the stars before explosion. Here we report early observations of supernova SN 2011fe in the galaxy M101 at a distance from Earth of 6.4 megaparsecs. We find that the exploding star was probably a carbon-oxygen white dwarf, and from the lack of an early shock we conclude that the companion was probably a main-sequence star. Early spectroscopy shows high-velocity oxygen that slows rapidly, on a timescale of hours, and extensive mixing of newly synthesized intermediate-mass elements in the outermost layers of the supernova. A companion paper uses pre-explosion images to rule out luminous red giants and most helium stars as companions to the progenitor.

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