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.
The full paper is available here: arXiv ADS -->
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.