Explosions of Massive Stars From Binary Systems

Io Kleiser, California Institute of Technology

Photo of Io Kleiser

Core-collapse supernovae are powerful explosions marking the end of a massive star's life. When they die, these stars leave behind remnant neutron stars or black holes and throw off ejected material at typically 10,000 km/s. That material is illuminated for days to months by the decay of radioactive material created in the explosion or by energy from the explosion itself. The type and structure of the star that produced the supernova often is not obvious, but the evolution of the optical signature from the explosion's aftermath can provide clues to its properties at the time of its death. In particular, the composition and structure of the star is heavily influenced by binary evolution (causing mass loss or mass gain and angular momentum transfer), mass loss from stellar winds, and late-stage activity from nuclear burning that may cause the star to expand or shed shells of material. To this end, we are systematically exploring mass loss and structural changes during massive stars' lives and how these different evolutionary paths affect what is observed when the stars explode. We will begin by using the one-dimensional (spherically symmetric) open-source stellar evolution code MESA to evolve stars up to the ends of their lives, with prescriptions for mass loss at different rates and for different durations, then explode these stars using a piston model. After evolving the ejected material out to the point at which it expands freely, we will use the radiation transport code SEDONA to propagate optical radiation through the ejecta and predict signatures from these supernovae. We will compare these predictions to the wealth of data from the Palomar Transient Factory, thereby ultimately linking observed supernovae to models of their progenitors, allowing us to use the deaths of these massive stars to gain insight into their lives.

Abstract Author(s): Io Kleiser, Sterl Phinney, Lars Bildsten, Matteo Cantiello, Daniel Kasen, Iair Arcavi