Possible detection of a pair instability supernova in the modern universe, and implications for the first stars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

SN 2006gy radiated far more energy in visual light than any other supernova so far, and potential explanations for its energy demands have implications for galactic chemical evolution and the deaths of the first stars. It remained bright for over 200 days, longer than any normal supernova, and it radiated more than 1051 ergs of luminous energy at visual wavelengths. I argue that this Type IIn supernova was probably the explosion of an extremely massive star like Eta Carinae that retained its hydrogen envelope when it exploded, having suffered relatively little mass loss during its lifetime. That this occurred at roughly Solar metallicity challenges current paradigms for mass loss in massive-star evolution. I explore a few potential explanations for SN2006gy's power source, involving either circumstellar interaction, or instead, the decay of 56Ni to 56Co to 56Fe. If SN 2006gy was powered by the conversion of shock energy into light, then the conditions must be truly extraordinary and traditional interaction models don't work. If SN 2006gy was powered by radioactive decay, then the uncomfortably huge 56Ni mass requires that the star exploded as a pair instability supernova. The mere possibility of this makes SN 2006gy interesting, especially at this meeting, because it is the first good candidate for a genuine pair instability supernova.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIP Conference Proceedings
Pages122-126
Number of pages5
Volume990
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
EventFirst Stars III - Santa Fe, NM, United States
Duration: Jul 15 2007Jul 20 2007

Other

OtherFirst Stars III
CountryUnited States
CitySanta Fe, NM
Period7/15/077/20/07

Fingerprint

supernovae
universe
stars
massive stars
radioactive decay
energy
chemical evolution
galactic evolution
death
metallicity
explosions
envelopes
shock
interactions
life (durability)
decay
hydrogen
wavelengths

Keywords

  • SN 2006gy
  • Supemovae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Possible detection of a pair instability supernova in the modern universe, and implications for the first stars. / Smith, Nathan.

AIP Conference Proceedings. Vol. 990 2008. p. 122-126.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Smith, N 2008, Possible detection of a pair instability supernova in the modern universe, and implications for the first stars. in AIP Conference Proceedings. vol. 990, pp. 122-126, First Stars III, Santa Fe, NM, United States, 7/15/07. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2905517
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