Modelling thermonuclear supernovae: how to blow up a white dwarf star

Wed 09 Aug, 2017 @12PM, level 7
Dr. Stuart Sim, Lecturer/Associate Investigator (SkyMapper)
Queen’s University Belfast, UK

Email: s.sim[at]


Aside from being spectacular displays in their own right, Type Ia supernova explosions have a key role in measuring the expansion history of the Universe and synthesizing the iron group elements. But what is their origin? That Type Ia supernovae arise from exploding white dwarfs is relatively well-established but the manner in which the explosion is ignited and how this can be determined from what we observe remain hotly debated issues.
I will discuss the theoretical modelling of Type Ia supernovae with particular focus on how radiative transfer simulations can be used to test explosion scenarios. I will argue that understanding the diversity of thermonuclear supernovae requires us to investigate a variety of different progenitor scenarios. Specifically, I will present recent results from our work on both Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf explosion scenarios and sub-Chandrasekhar mass models.