Double-detonation sub-Chandrasekhar supernovae: Can minimum helium shell masses detonate the core?

M. Fink, F.K. Röpke, W. Hillebrandt, I.R. Seitenzahl, S.A. Sim, M. Kromer

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229 Citations (Scopus)


The explosion of sub-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarfs via the double detonation scenario is a potential explanation for type Ia supernovae. In this scenario, a surface detonation in a helium layer initiates a detonation in the underlying carbon/oxygen core leading to an explosion. For a given core mass, a lower bound has been determined on the mass of the helium shell required for dynamical burning during a helium flash, which is a necessary prerequisite for detonation. For a range of core and corresponding minimum helium shell masses, we investigate whether an assumed surface helium detonation is capable of triggering a subsequent detonation in the core even for this limiting case. We carried out hydrodynamic simulations on a co-expanding Eulerian grid in two dimensions assuming rotational symmetry. The detonations are propagated using the level-set approach and a simplified scheme for nuclear reactions that has been calibrated with a large nuclear network. The same network is used to determine detailed nucleosynthetic abundances in a post-processing step. Based on approximate detonation initiation criteria in the literature, we find that secondary core detonations are triggered for all of the simulated models, ranging in core mass from 0.810 up to 1.385 M? with corresponding shell masses from 0.126 down to 0.0035 M?. This implies that, as soon as a detonation triggers in a helium shell covering a carbon/oxygen white dwarf, a subsequent core detonation is virtually inevitable.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2010

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