PhD thesis: Observations of rare supernovae and their environments
Friday 19 December 2014
to 17:00 at
Francesco Taddia (Stockholm University, Astronomy department)
Supernovae (SNe) are the final stage in the life of massive stars. Their explosion unbinds the
progenitor star revealing its inner layers. The SN ejecta interact with the circumstellar material
(CSM), providing further information on the progenitor star.
In this work we present the study of rare SN subtypes, aiming to investigate their observational
and physical properties and those of their progenitor stars.These studies include the analysis of SN
samples as well as that of single objects.Two main SN classes are discussed: radioactively-powered
events and SNe interacting with their CSM.
Within the first group, we investigated the rare (~1% of core-collapse SNe) family of SN 1987Alike
events. These SNe are found to be the explosion of compact, hydrogen-rich blue supergiant
(BSG) stars, and to occur mainly in moderately low metallicity environs. We also studied a sample
of 20 stripped-envelope (SE) SNe, which are also powered by the decay of radioactive 56Ni. These
SNe are the result of the core-collapse of massive, hydrogen or even helium-poor stars stripped
of their outer envelopes by line-driven winds and/or by the accretion onto companion stars.We
investigated the differences among the early-time light curves of the subtypes forming the SE SN
group (IIb, Ib, Ic, Ic-BL) and found that in all of them the 56Ni is strongly mixed out in the ejecta.
This result suggests that the difference between helium-poor and helium-rich SNe is due to an
actual lack of helium in SNe Ic and Ic-BL rather than to a different degree of 56Ni mixing.
Our work on CSM-interacting SNe include the study of a sample of SNe IIn, i.e. core-collapse
SNe interacting with hydrogen-rich CSM, and the analysis of SN 2008J, a particularly rare event
which we interpreted as the interaction of a thermonuclear SN Ia with a thick hydrogen-rich CSM.
Spectral analysis of the SN IIn sample suggests that these SNe are likely to be the explosion of
luminous blue variable stars (LBVs), although other channels are not excluded.