Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are generally agreed to arise from thermonuclear explosions of carbon–oxygen white dwarfs. The actual path to explosion, however, remains elusive, with numerous plausible parent systems and explosion mechanisms suggested. Observationally, SNe Ia have multiple subclasses, distinguished by their light curves and spectra. This raises the question of whether these indicate that multiple mechanisms occur in nature or that explosions have a large but continuous range of physical properties. We revisit the idea that normal and 91bg-like SNe can be understood as part of a spectral sequence in which changes in temperature dominate. Specifically, we find that a single ejecta structure is sufficient to provide reasonable fits of both the normal SN Ia SN 2011fe and the 91bg-like SN 2005bl, provided that the luminosity and thus temperature of the ejecta are adjusted appropriately. This suggests that the outer layers of the ejecta are similar, thus providing some support for a common explosion mechanism. Our spectral sequence also helps to shed light on the conditions under which carbon can be detected in premaximum SN Ia spectra—we find that emission from iron can “fill in” the carbon trough in cool SNe Ia. This may indicate that the outer layers of the ejecta of events in which carbon is detected are relatively metal-poor compared to events in which carbon is not detected.
- supernovae: general
- supernovae: individual: SN 2011fe
- SN 2005bl