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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Against the wind: Radio light curves of type ia supernovae interacting with low-density circumstellar shells


For decades a wide variety of observations spanning the radio through optical and on to the X-ray have attempted to uncover signs of type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) interacting with a circumstellar medium (CSM). The goal of these studies is to constrain the nature of the hypothesized SN Ia mass-donor companion. A continuous CSM is typically assumed when interpreting observations of interaction. However, while such models have been successfully applied to core-collapse SNe, the assumption of continuity may not be accurate for SNe Ia, because shells of CSM could be formed by pre-supernova eruptions (novae). In this work, we model the interaction of SNe with a spherical, low-density, finite-extent CSM and create a suite of synthetic radio synchrotron light curves. We find that CSM shells produce sharply peaked light curves. We also identify a fiducial set of models that obey a common evolution and can be used to generate radio light curves for an interaction with an arbitrary shell. The relations obeyed by the fiducial models can be used to deduce CSM properties from radio observations; we demonstrate this by applying them to the nondetections of SN 2011fe and SN 2014J. Finally, we explore a multiple shell CSM configuration and describe its more complicated dynamics and the resultant radio light curves.

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