Type Ia Supernova not Standard Candles? I'm confused .

  • Thread starter Garth
  • Start date
  • #1
Garth
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,574
105

Main Question or Discussion Point

Type Ia Supernova are generally thought to be white dwarfs that, either by accretion of mass from a companion (single degenerate), or as a result of a merger with a white dwarf companion (double degenerate), approach and then exceed 99% of the Chandrasekhar limit of about 1.44 M, at which point the star begins a unstable process of carbon fusion that leads to complete deflagration and detonation of the star in a supernova.

Because the detonation mass is more or less fixed the SNe are all about the same luminosity and they can be used as standard candles. They do vary a little and the Phillips relationship has been derived by observation, which relates the peak luminosity to the speed of luminosity evolution after maximum light.

The characteristics of the Type 1a is that its spectrum is rich in carbon and oxygen and deficient in hydrogen. It is for this reason that they are thought to be the detonation of a carbon star, a white dwarf of ~ 1.4 M.

They are very bright and are the principal way of observing the effect of Dark Energy, and one pillar of the consensus standard [itex]\Lambda[/itex]CDM model of cosmology.

However an eprint Exploring an Alternative Channel of Evolution Towards SNa Ia Explosion (MNRAS accepted) has recently been published that would suggest they are not all standard candles.

The paper looks at hydrogen and helium contamination of the WD progenitor and finds that a very small amount of hydrogen or a greater amount of helium may cause premature detonation.

From #8 Conclusions:
The main results of the present study suggest that:
- The presence of hydrogen even in extremely low concentrations (from 10−16 to 10−21) can raise the pycno-nuclearreaction rates in density intervals from 107 to 108 g cm−3. The same is true for helium at somewhat higher threshold densities.
- In the case of hydrogen, the above density interval corresponds to WD masses from ≃ 0.85 to 1.2M, well below the known limit of the Chandrasekhar mass.
- In WDs in this mass range, the energy released by pycno-nuclear reactions like 1H +12 C may trigger the ignition of CC-burning in a two steps process that we have named the fuse of C-ignition. The age at which this is expected to occur depends on the WD mass and abundance of residual hydrogen. The fuse-induced C-ignition is likely followed by thermal runaway according to the classical mechanisms.
- Even WDs with masses as low as 0.85 M may experience nuclear runaway.
Our results could in principle radically change not only the current understanding of the structure and evolution of WDs but also imply that single WDs may be progenitors of type Ia SNe.
................................
If the results of our exploratory project are confirmed by further investigation, important implications for the currently accepted scenario for type Ia SNe will follow. The binary origin of type Ia SNa explosion would be no longer strictly necessary. Isolated WDs with masses well below the Chandrasekhar limit may reach the threshold for pycno-nuclear burning and consequent SNa explosion due to the survival of traces of light elements. These impurities may remain inactive for long periods of time and be activated only when the WDs reach the liquid-solid regime. Owing to the large range of WD masses that could be affected by the presence of impurities and undergo thermal runaway and consequent SNa explosion, the nature of standard candle so far attributed to type Ia SNe may not be true. Because of the far reaching implications, the whole subject deserves careful future investigation.
(Bold mine)

My confusion is that such variation in SNe Ia luminosity should have already been observed in the "standard candle" calibration of these objects.

How would such a variation affect the 'Gold Standard' dataset of distant SNe Ia and the standard [itex]\Lambda[/itex]CDM model?

Garth
 
Last edited:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
marcus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
24,738
785
...My confusion is that such variation in SNe Ia luminosity should have already been observed in the "standard candle" calibration of these objects...
That seems to be a good reason for skepticism concerning the conclusions. But they are cautious, they call this an "exploratory project" and merely say that (because there would be far-reaching implications if confirmed) "the whole subject deserves careful future investigation."
 
  • #3
Garth
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,574
105
That seems to be a good reason for skepticism concerning the conclusions. But they are cautious, they call this an "exploratory project" and merely say that (because there would be far-reaching implications if confirmed) "the whole subject deserves careful future investigation."
Yes, but the likelihood of such a tiny contamination is highly likely IMHO and therefore the variation should be prevalent especially as a New Scientist article Solo supernovae challenge cosmic distance standards quoting one of the authors states:
observations show that half of the Type Ias come from dwarfs that are not technically massive enough to explode, says Marina Orio at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Susana Deustua, a scientist with the Supernova Cosmology Project comments:
"This study gives us an understanding of the variety and diversity of the supernovae, This new zoo of Type Ia supernovae might all be the same species, but they're different beasts".
Different beasts with different luminosities?

I have suspicions about the criteria (especially the assumptions underlying them) by which members of the Gold Set are selected....

Garth
 
Last edited:
  • #4
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
6,195
442
My confusion is that such variation in SNe Ia luminosity should have already been observed in the "standard candle" calibration of these objects.
Not necessarily. The spectra of SN1A's aren't neat and clear. They vary, by a fair amount.

It's been known for some time that some SN1A's are brighter and last longer than others (there is a relatively tight correlation between decay time and brightness), but last time I checked we hadn't yet found any correlation in the spectrum that identified brighter or dimmer supernovae. The search continues, of course, as any additional method of standardizing SN1A's further will reduce the errors on estimates of cosmology that utilize them. It would be very good if this observation held up.
 
  • #5
237
22
I understand, that distant SNIa are dimmer and fainter than they ought to be

I.e. we observe distant SNIa and assume that they are standard candles...

We think we know the intrinsic brightness of the SNIa and the red shift of the host galaxy

But we don't receive all of the photons we expect

Some photons don't make the trip... And the father away the host galaxy , the more photons fail to reach earth

Is this correct? I.e. Professor Perlmutter never claimed that his SNIa were too BRIGHT, yes?
 
  • #6
Garth
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,574
105
Hi TEFling,

All photons make the trip apart from those absorbed by dust extinction.

The fact that SNe Ia were fainter than expected (at around z=1) by the 'plain' GR model was evidence that the universe had accelerated under the influence of some 'exotic' Dark Energy/Cosmological Constant.

At even higher redshift they get a little brighter than expected, which gives a precise handle on the model itself - i.e. the [itex]\Lambda[/itex]CDM model.

But this 'precise handle' obtained from the 'Gold set' depends on:
  1. In the far universe: the Absolute Magnitudes of those very distant SNe Ia being deduced correctly from their apparent magnitudes. This depends on such factors as: the amount of dust extinction, the modelling of their luminosity curves with the delay in detection given their faintness, the correct cosmological geometry, the correct application of the Phillips relationship coupled with cosmological time dilation, any correction because of a secular evolution of metallicity, selection effect (not detecting the fainter members), and probably a few more!
  2. In the near universe: the accurate calibration of these supernovae as Standard Candles. Confusion as to different classes of these supernovae and a possible evolution of the ratio of these classes in any set of distant SNe Ia will introduce errors of Absolute Magnitude in the 'Gold set'.
So the point of this thread is to ask the question, given the OP paper, "Is it true that "we know the intrinsic brightness of the SNe Ia" standard candles?"

Garth
 
Last edited:
  • #7
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
6,195
442
I understand, that distant SNIa are dimmer and fainter than they ought to be

I.e. we observe distant SNIa and assume that they are standard candles...

We think we know the intrinsic brightness of the SNIa and the red shift of the host galaxy

But we don't receive all of the photons we expect

Some photons don't make the trip... And the father away the host galaxy , the more photons fail to reach earth

Is this correct? I.e. Professor Perlmutter never claimed that his SNIa were too BRIGHT, yes?
The really far-away ones are too bright.

But the point of this thread is that there's actually a decent amount of variation in SN1A brightness. If we can produce a physical model for why some supernovae are brighter than others, and can measure the features of that physical model, then we can do a better job of "standarizing" SN1A's to reduce the errors on cosmological parameters.
 
  • #8
237
22
I want to clarify, that dust is not the only factor causing extinction... Plain old space plasma would still have some Kramer's opacity, yes? To try to help the focus of the thread, unless someone says otherwise, I will privately assume that a column density of space plasma does have some non zero opacity, as would the same elements when compressed into the interiors of stars

Thanks for the clarifications
 
  • #9
Garth
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,574
105
Not necessarily. The spectra of SN1A's aren't neat and clear. They vary, by a fair amount.

It's been known for some time that some SN1A's are brighter and last longer than others (there is a relatively tight correlation between decay time and brightness), but last time I checked we hadn't yet found any correlation in the spectrum that identified brighter or dimmer supernovae. The search continues, of course, as any additional method of standardizing SN1A's further will reduce the errors on estimates of cosmology that utilize them. It would be very good if this observation held up.
Hi Chalnoth, thank you.

So are you saying the variation in Absolute Magnitude is already accounted for in the Phillips relationship?

originally defined as the decline in the B-magnitude light curve from maximum light to the magnitude 15 days after B-maximum, a parameter he called
4040b005b8ebc12c6662771d5a117777.png
. The relation states that the maximum intrinsic B-band magnitude is given by [5]

d9d8b0a8627ed2149e885b7799326458.png
Dm15_definition_3.gif


Garth
 
  • #10
Garth
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,574
105
I want to clarify, that dust is not the only factor causing extinction... Plain old space plasma would still have some Kramer's opacity, yes? To try to help the focus of the thread, unless someone says otherwise, I will privately assume that a column density of space plasma does have some non zero opacity, as would the same elements when compressed into the interiors of stars

Thanks for the clarifications
Hi TEFling,

There are two issues as I pointed out in #6, the calibration of the SNa Type Ia Standard Candle in the near universe and the correct application of the cosmological distance modulus (taking into account geometry and expansion rate effects) to the apparent magnitudes of distant SNa Type Ia.

Extinction is only one (but possibly important) correction to be applied to that distance modulus.

My concern in this thread is that if there are several different species of SNe Ia, degenerate, doubly degenerate and now 'single contaminated' SNe Ia, then, (remembering the early error in calibration of the Cepheid Variable standard candle in Hubble's time,) has there been a error of identification of the species in the calibration of SNe Ia?

Secondly, considering the deep time elapse since the detonation of the distant SNe Ia, has there been an evolution in the ratio between these different species?

Specifically as it would take some time for the degenerate, and especially the doubly degenerate, SNe Ia to reach detonation I would expect there to be a greater ratio of the 'single contaminated' types early on in the universe's history.

To see the problem I post the SNe ia Hubble diagram taken from New Hubble Space Telescope Discoveries of Type Ia Supernovae at z ≥ 1: Narrowing Constraints on the Early Behavior of Dark Energy (Reiss et al 2007)

fg6.h.jpg

MLCS2k2 SN Ia Hubble diagram. SNe Ia from ground-based discoveries in the gold sample are shown as diamonds, HST-discovered SNe Ia are shown as filled symbols. Overplotted is the best fit for a flat cosmology:
Omega.gif
M = 0.27,
Omega.gif
Lambda.gif
= 0.73. Inset: Residual Hubble diagram and models after subtracting empty universe model. The gold sample is binned in equal spans of n
Delta.gif
z = 6 where n is the number of SNe in a bin and
Delta.gif
z is the redshift range of the bin.
Garth
 
  • #11
237
22
For sake of not causing confusion, SNIa at high redshift are not actually too bright, per se. Instead, they are too bright compared to a reference cosmology, namely an empty Milne universe ( rho = 0 ). However, they are still slightly dimmer and fainter than would be expected, for the critically closed cosmology ( rho = 1 ). And, actually, accounting for the attenuation due to electron scattering Kramer's opacity, the high redshift bin at z~1.5 is actually about as luminous as expected.

What seems to be the striking case, is that SNIa at low redshift ( z<1 ) are several tenths of a magnitude too dim, for a critically closed cosmos to accommodate, even with electron scattering included.

For z<1, SNIa appear about 30% too dim, compared to the critically closed case.
PicsArt_2_10_2015 10_56_52 PM.jpg
 
  • #12
Garth
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,574
105
Actually, the Empty (Milne) model fitted the original Perlmutter data as well as the [itex]\Lambda[/itex]CDM model out to z=1. On this 1997/8 plot: Poster displayed at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., January 9, 1998 (Perlmutter et al., B.A.A.S., v. 29, no. 5, p. 1351, 1997) . Milne model is the (0,0) plot. However going beyond z = 1.5, as in the diagram above, confirms the standard model as the supernova become brighter than that reference Milne model.
wwwposter2b.jpg


However have we got the 'Standard Candle' calibrated correctly?

Garth
 
Last edited:
  • #13
237
22
Those data are difficult to reconcile with any critical closed cosmology

Extinction due to optical depth ought to increase with distance, without ever decreasing

But the higher redshift SNIa show expected extinction, whereas nearer ones show MORE extinction ... Like looking through mist and being able to see far but not near

One would have to claim younger SNIa are somehow more obscured by local environments ( since they are closer having less optical depth through intergalactic space )
 
  • #14
Garth
Science Advisor
Gold Member
3,574
105
Those data are difficult to reconcile with any critical closed cosmology
Extinction due to optical depth ought to increase with distance, without ever decreasing
But the higher redshift SNIa show expected extinction, whereas nearer ones show MORE extinction ... Like looking through mist and being able to see far but not near
One would have to claim younger SNIa are somehow more obscured by local environments (since they are closer having less optical depth through intergalactic space )
If the change in relative apparent magnitude is due to extinction.....

That of course is one unknown that could affect the result, but as you point out, if the faintness of the z~1 Sne 1a is due to extinction then it seems to work the wrong way round, the more distant SNe should be even fainter than predicted, not brighter. Which is a good reason for finding another factor.

The standard answer is 'Jerk'! That is the transition from a decelerating universe out beyond z = 1.5 or so, to an accelerating universe at around z=1under the influence of [itex]\Lambda[/itex]/DE. Whether the universe then stops accelerating in the nearby universe is, I think, open to debate. If the acceleration is due to the Cosmological Constant then, once accelerating, the universe would accelerate for ever as [itex]\Lambda[/itex] continues to dominate. If DE then it all depends on the Equation of State with -1/3 > [itex]\omega[/itex] > -1 to give a non-accelerating recent universe.

The other factors I wonder about:
  1. is a secular variation in Absolute Magnitude due to a variation in metallicity,
  2. a selection effect in the detection of these distant SNe, for example - your concern #13, perhaps extinction prevents the detection of would-be fainter members of the z=1.65 'bin'.
  3. and - following on from the subject of this thread - a secular variation, an evolution, of the ratio of different species of SNe 1a. At z=1.65 in the standard model we are about 4Gyr after BB and the types with rapid pathways to WD detonation ought to be more prevalent than the slower ones as compared to their ratio at about 13Gyr after BB.
Garth
 
Last edited:
  • #15
237
22
From the first Friedmann equation, and by normalizing the scale factor and time coordinate by their present values a0,t0...

And by evaluating the first equation at present epoch to notice that the normalized curvature term k ~ ( Omega0 - 1 )...

You derive the relation between

(H0 t0) dt = da / sqrt( OmegaM/a1 + OmegaR/a2 + Omega/\a2 - (Omega0-1) )


Wolfram Alpha example code
integral from 0 to 1 1/sqrt(0.19/a+0.01/a^2+.9*a^2-(1.1-1)) da


For a radiation universe OmegaR=1, the RHS integrates to 1/2...

For a matter universe OmegaM=1, the RHS integrates to 2/3...

And combinations of matter and energy yield values in between...

Thus critically closed matter and energy universes would be young compared to a Hubble time TH=1/H0...

Which would always make the SNIa results hard to understand

Even an empty Milne universe integrates trivially to 1

Only by adding a constant energy density term can you draw out the lifetime age of the cosmos to >1 Hubble time

And the cosmological constant has a very natural interpretation, namely that the fabric of space-time itself has an energy density, as if composed of energy itself, which could be a very unifying concept

The SNIa are calibrated from local SNIa, yes? So to have bright events nearby and far away, with dim events in between, would require three successive populations of SNIa, with the first and third conspiring to have similar luminosities.

Never the less, more precise measurements of these important events would greatly clarify the details of the universe
 
  • #16
237
22
Garth makes a persuasive argument for the possibility of two types of SNIa, early and late

And a nearly empty Milne cosmology is consistent with observations out to z~1

What about the angular size effect of GR? Objects at z~1.5 begin to appear bigger and larger on the sky? Could a simple Milne cosmology, with a plausible two types of SNIa, combined with increasing apparent angular size at high redshift, account for and explain observations?
 
  • #17
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
6,195
442
Garth makes a persuasive argument for the possibility of two types of SNIa, early and late
As near as I can tell, there has been one example of a SN1A which has fallen outside the expected brightness range. There may well be two types, but one type is extraordinarily rare.
 

Related Threads on Type Ia Supernova not Standard Candles? I'm confused .

  • Last Post
Replies
20
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
34
Views
5K
Replies
46
Views
4K
Replies
3
Views
740
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
5K
Replies
6
Views
2K
Top