The detonation of a sub-Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf at the origin of the low-luminosity Type Ia supernova 1999by

Stéphane Blondin, Luc Dessart, and D. John Hillier, 2017. Accepted for publication in MNRAS.

While Chandrasekhar-mass (MCh) models with a low 56Ni yield can match the peak luminosities of fast-declining, 91bg-like Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), they systematically fail to reproduce their faster light-curve evolution. Here we illustrate the impact of a low ejecta mass on the radiative display of low-luminosity SNe Ia, by comparing a sub-MCh model resulting from the pure central detonation of a C-O White Dwarf (WD) to a MCh delayed-detonation model with the same 56Ni yield of 0.12 Msun. Our sub-MCh model from a 0.90 Msun WD progenitor has a ~5d shorter rise time in the integrated UV-optical-IR (uvoir) luminosity, as well as in the B-band, and a ~20 per cent higher peak uvoir luminosity (~1 mag brighter peak M_B). This sub-MCh model also displays bluer maximum-light colours due to the larger specific heating rate, and larger post-maximum uvoir and B-band decline rates. The luminosity decline at nebular times is also more pronounced, reflecting the enhanced escape of gamma rays resulting from the lower density of the progenitor WD. The deficit of stable nickel in the innermost ejecta leads to a notable absence of forbidden lines of [NiII] in the nebular spectra. In contrast, the MCh model displays a strong line due to [NiII] 1.939 micron, which could in principle serve to distinguish between different progenitor scenarios. Our sub-MCh model offers an unprecedented agreement with optical and near-infrared observations of the 91bg-like SN 1999by, making a strong case for a WD progenitor significantly below the Chandrasekhar-mass limit for this event and other low-luminosity SNe Ia.

The full paper is available here: arXiv

The multi-epoch spectra of the MCh model DDC25 and the sub-MCh model SCH2p0 used to confront to SN 1999by observations can be downloaded here: SNIa_DDC25_model_B17b.tgz (2.0M) and SNIa_SCH2p0_model_B17b.tgz (2.1M). These files also include the input hydrodynamical models at 0.5 d (for DDC25) and 0.75 d (for SCH2p0) past explosion.