Observational signatures of type Ia supernova progenitors

20 - 24 September 2010

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Type Ia supernovae are bright stellar explosions, observed in old as well as young stellar populations. They have integrated bolometric luminosities of the order of 1047 W caused by thermonuclear explosions of degenerate carbon-oxygen white dwarfs, most likely triggered by the compression of the objects as they grow in mass towards the Chandrasekhar limit. They are one of the main sites of nucleosynthesis in the Universe, being responsible for most of the iron ever produced. Their tight peak luminosity – light curve shape relation has enabled their use as distance indicators in cosmology, giving the first clues that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating. Lastly, at least some of these explosions are found in old, low-mass stellar populations, provide a welcome 'magnifying glass' towards these populations in distant different environments.

Given the large amount of data, the advanced explosion calculations and their    importance for different fields of astrophysics, it is very frustrating that we don't know the configuration and trigger of the explosion, i.e. their direct progenitors. Virtually all models envision a binary system, but the    type, and procedure to have a white dwarf grow in mass (accretion or merger) differs greatly. Theoretical calculations addressing the most likely configurations that can lead to such explosions at the observed rates are hampered by a lack of understanding of their input physics. But luckily, over the recent years, it has become more and more clear that the different proposed progenitors should give rise to several observable signatures.

In this Lorentz workshop we will bring together researchers working on these observable signatures.

The aim of the workshop is to discuss the best way forward for obtaining tight observational constraints on the progenitors of type Ia supernovae in the next decade.    


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