Helium as a signature of the double detonation in Type Ia supernovae

Christine E. Collins*, Stuart A. Sim, Luke J. Shingles, Sabrina Gronow, Friedrich K. Roepke, Ruediger Pakmor, Ivo R. Seitenzahl, Markus Kromer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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The double detonation is a widely discussed mechanism to explain Type Ia supernovae from explosions of sub-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarfs. In this scenario, a helium detonation is ignited in a surface helium shell on a carbon/oxygen white dwarf, which leads to a secondary carbon detonation. Explosion simulations predict high abundances of unburnt helium in the ejecta, however, radiative transfer simulations have not been able to fully address whether helium spectral features would form. This is because helium can not be sufficiently excited to form spectral features by thermal processes, but can be excited by collisions with non-thermal electrons, which most studies have neglected. We carry out a full non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (non-LTE) radiative transfer simulation for an instance of a double detonation explosion model, and include a non-thermal treatment of fast electrons. We find a clear He I {\lambda} 10830 feature which is strongest in the first few days after explosion and becomes weaker with time. Initially this feature is blended with the Mg II {\lambda} 10927 feature but over time separates to form a secondary feature to the blue wing of the Mg II {\lambda} 10927 feature. We compare our simulation to observations of iPTF13ebh, which showed a similar feature to the blue wing of the Mg II {\lambda} 10927 feature, previously identified as C I. Our simulation shows a good match to the evolution of this feature and we identify it as high velocity He I {\lambda} 10830. This suggests that He I {\lambda} 10830 could be a signature of the double detonation scenario.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4447–4454
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Early online date19 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

7 pages, accepted by MNRAS


  • astro-ph.SR
  • astro-ph.HE


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