Particle Physics Seminars at BNL

Type Ia Supernova Physics in the JWST Era

by Dr James DerKacy (Virginia Tech)

Small Seminar Room (510 A)

Small Seminar Room

510 A


The launch of JWST heralded a new era in astronomy. JWST’s unparalleled sensitivity in the near- and mid-infrared (NIR+MIR) enable detailed studies at these wavelengths, unachievable with previous IR instruments. Studies of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) in the MIR during the nebular phases (greater than ~250-300 days after explosion) are particularly useful for probing the inner-most core of the ejecta, where differences in the nucleo-synthetic products of the SN are most prominent. The presence of stable isotopes like 58Ni, and other electron-capture elements are direct probes of the burning conditions in the SN explosion, providing a direct link between observations and theoretical explosion models. I discuss recent work using JWST to study SN 2021aefx, a nearby normal SN Ia in the galaxy NGC 1566, which has been observed multiple times during JWST Cycle 1. Multiple lines of stable Ni are seen. Combined line profiles of both Co and Ar imply SN 2021aefx is the explosion of a near-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf, with an off-center detonation, whose viewing angle with respect to the line-of-sight can be determined. Finally, I’ll preview upcoming studies of SNe Ia with JWST and their broader impacts on astronomy.


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