Gamma-ray diagnostics of Type Ia supernovae. Predictions of observables from three-dimensional modeling

A. Summa, A. Ulyanov, M. Kromer, S. Boyer, F. K. Röpke, S. A. Sim, I. R. Seitenzahl, M. Fink, K. Mannheim, R. Pakmor, F. Ciaraldi-Schoolmann, R. Diehl, K. Maeda, W. Hillebrandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Context. Although the question of progenitor systems and detailed explosion mechanisms still remains a matter of discussion, it is commonly believed that Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are production sites of large amounts of radioactive nuclei. Even though the gamma-ray emission due to radioactive decays is responsible for powering the light curves of SNe Ia, gamma rays themselves are of particular interest as a diagnostic tool because they directly lead to deeper insight into the nucleosynthesis and the kinematics of these explosion events. Aims: We study the evolution of gamma-ray line and continuum emission of SNe Ia with the objective of analyzing the relevance of observations in this energy range. We seek to investigate the chances for the success of future MeV missions regarding their capabilities for constraining the intrinsic properties and the physical processes of SNe Ia. Methods: Focusing on two of the most broadly discussed SN Ia progenitor scenarios - a delayed detonation in a Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf (WD) and a violent merger of two WDs - we used three-dimensional explosion models and performed radiative transfer simulations to obtain synthetic gamma-ray spectra. Both chosen models produce the same mass of 56Ni and have similar optical properties that are in reasonable agreement with the recently observed supernova SN 2011fe. We examine the gamma-ray spectra with respect to their distinct features and draw connections to certain characteristics of the explosion models. Applying diagnostics, such as line and hardness ratios, the detection prospects for future gamma-ray missions with higher sensitivities in the MeV energy range are discussed. Results: In contrast to the optical regime, the gamma-ray emission of our two chosen models proves to be quite different. The almost direct connection of the emission of gamma rays to fundamental physical processes occurring in SNe Ia permits additional constraints concerning several explosion model properties that are not easily accessible within other wavelength ranges. Proposed future MeV missions such as GRIPS will resolve all spectral details only for nearby SNe Ia, but hardness ratio and light curve measurements still allow for a distinction of the two different models at 10 Mpc and 16 Mpc for an exposure time of 106 s. The possibility of detecting the strongest line features up to the Virgo distance will offer the opportunity to build up a first sample of SN Ia detections in the gamma-ray energy range and underlines the importance of future space observatories for MeV gamma rays.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2013


  • supernovae: general
  • hydrodynamics
  • nuclear reactions
  • nucleosynthesis
  • abundances
  • radiative transfer
  • gamma rays: general
  • line: formation


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