Off-center explosions of Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarfs: An explanation of super-bright type la supernovae?

W. Hillebrandt, S.A. Sim, F.K. Röpke

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Context. The recent discovery of a very bright type la supernova, SNLS-03D3bb (=SN 2003fg), in the Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS) has raised the question of whether super-Chandrasekhar-mass white-dwarf stars are needed to explain such bright explosions. Progenitors of this sort could form by mergers of pairs of rather massive white dwarfs. Binary systems of two white dwarfs in close orbit, where their total mass significantly exceeds the Chandrasekhar mass, have not yet been found. Therefore SNLS-03D3bb could establish the first clear case of a double-degenerate progenitor of a (peculiar) type la supernovae. Moreover, if this interpretation is correct, it casts some doubt on the universality of the calibration relations used to make SNe la distance indicators for cosmology. Aims. We aim to evaluate the case for a super-Chandrasekhar-mass progenitor for SNLS-03D3bb in light of previous theoretical work on super-Chandrasekhar-mass explosions. Furthermore, we propose an alternative scenario involving only a Chandrasekhar-mass progenitor. Methods. We present a theoretically motivated critical discussion of the expected observational fingerprints of super-Chandrasekharmass explosions. As an alternative, we describe a simple class of aspherical Chandrasekhar-mass models in which the products of nuclear burning are displaced from the center. We then perform simple radiative transfer calculations to predict synthetic lightcurves for one such off-center explosion model. Results. In important respects, the expected observational consequences of super-Chandrasekhar-mass explosions are not consistent with the observations of SNLS-03D3bb. We demonstrate that the lopsided explosion of a Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf could provide a better explanation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2007

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Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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