Critical ingredients of Type Ia supernova radiative-transfer modelling

Luc Dessart, D. John Hillier, Stéphane Blondin, and Alexei Khokhlov, 2014, MNRAS, 441, 3249

We explore the physics of Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) light curves and spectra using the 1D non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (non-LTE) time-dependent radiative-transfer code CMFGEN. Rather than adjusting ejecta properties to match observations, we select as input one "standard" 1D Chandrasekhar-mass delayed-detonation hydrodynamical model, and then explore the sensitivity of radiation and gas properties of the ejecta on radiative-transfer modelling assumptions. The correct computation of SN Ia radiation is not exclusively a solution to an "opacity problem", characterized by the treatment of a large number of lines. We demonstrate that the key is to identify and treat important atomic processes consistently. This is not limited to treating line blanketing in non-LTE. We show that including forbidden-line transitions of metals, and in particular Co, is increasingly important for the temperature and ionization of the gas beyond maximum light. Non-thermal ionization and excitation are also critical since they affect the colour evolution and the DM15 decline rate of our model. While impacting little the bolometric luminosity, a more complete treatment of decay routes leads to enhanced line blanketing, e.g. associated with 48Ti in the U and B bands. Overall, we find that SN Ia radiation properties are influenced in a complicated way by the atomic data we employ, so that obtaining converged results is a real challenge. Nonetheless, with our fully fledged CMFGEN model, we obtain good agreement with the golden standard Type Ia SN 2005cf in the optical and near-IR, from 5 to 60 d after explosion, suggesting that assuming spherical symmetry is not detrimental to SN Ia radiative-transfer modelling at these times. Multi-D effects no doubt matter, but they are perhaps less important than accurately treating the non-LTE processes that are crucial to obtain reliable temperature and ionization structures.

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The models discussed in this paper can be downloaded here: SNIa_DDC10_D14c.tgz (1.8M). This also includes the input hydrodynamical model at 0.98 d past explosion.