Revealing type Ia supernova physics with cosmic rates and nuclear gamma rays.
HORIUCHI S. and BEACOM J.F.
Abstract (from CDS):
Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) remain mysterious despite their central importance in cosmology and their rapidly increasing discovery rate. The progenitors of SNe Ia can be probed by the delay time between progenitor birth and explosion as SNe Ia. The explosions and progenitors of SNe Ia can be probed by MeV nuclear gamma rays emitted in the decays of radioactive nickel and cobalt into iron. We compare the cosmic star formation and SN Ia rates, finding that their different redshift evolution requires a large fraction of SNe Ia to have large delay times. A delay-time distribution of the form t –α with α = 1.0±0.3 provides a good fit, implying that 50% of SNe Ia explode more than ∼1 Gyr after progenitor birth. The extrapolation of the cosmic SN Ia rate to z = 0 agrees with the rate we deduce from catalogs of local SNe Ia. We investigate prospects for gamma-ray telescopes to exploit the facts that escaping gamma rays directly reveal the power source of SNe Ia and uniquely provide tomography of the expanding ejecta. We find large improvements relative to earlier studies by Gehrels et al. in 1987 and Timmes & Woosley in 1997 due to larger and more certain SN Ia rates and advances in gamma-ray detectors. The proposed Advanced Compton Telescope, with a narrow-line sensitivity ∼60 times better than that of current satellites, would, on an annual basis, detect up to ∼100 SNe Ia (3σ) and provide revolutionary model discrimination for SNe Ia within 20 Mpc, with gamma-ray light curves measured with ∼10σ significance daily for ∼100 days. Even more modest improvements in detector sensitivity would open a new and invaluable astronomy with frequent SN Ia gamma-ray detections.