Speaker: Chris Ashall (University of Hawai’i)
Title: The Variety of Thermonuclear Supernova
Abstract: Type Ia Supernovae (SNe Ia) mark the demise of white dwarfs (WD). These cosmic explosions release as much luminous energy as the sun produces over its entire lifetime. As cauldrons of nucleosynthesis, SNe Ia provide the interstellar medium with Fe-group elements and are key to its isotopic composition. They are also accurate cosmological distance rulers, which were vital in the discovery of the acceleration of the Universe. Yet somehow the exact details of their progenitor scenario (e.g. single degenerate vs double degenerate) and explosion mechanism (e.g. Chandrasekhar mass vs. sub-Chandrasekhar mass) still eludes us. Understanding the origin of SNe Ia is critical if we are to reduce systematics in future cosmological experiments. All-sky surveys have helped to reveal more than nine sub-types of these thermonuclear SNe, and it is now clear that they have a diverse set of properties. I will provide an overview of these subclasses, demonstrating how high precision multi-band follow-up observations allow for subtle differences to be revealed. These differences provide critical details about the origins of the explosions which were not previously known. I will particularly concentrate on the over luminous super-Chandrasekhar mass and normal SNe Ia. Finally, I will discuss how the James Webb Space Telescope and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will help solve the unknown SNe Ia progenitor scenario and explosion mechanism problems.