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Astro Seminar

Type Ia supernovae: From explosions to cosmology

Speaker: Dr Kate Maguire (Dublin)
Date: Wednesday 6 November 2019
Time: 14:00
Venue: Queens Buildings N/3.28

Supernovae are the incredibly luminous deaths of stars that play vital roles in chemical enrichment, galaxy feedback mechanisms, and stellar evolution. In particular, Type Ia supernovae, the explosions of white dwarf stars in binary systems, were instrumental in the discovery of dark energy. However, what are their progenitor systems, and how they explode, remains a mystery. There is increasing observational evidence that there are multiple ways in which white dwarfs can explode. I will review the status of what we know about the stellar systems that produce Type Ia supernovae, as well as discuss the recently discovered zoo of peculiar transients that are also predicted to result from the explosions of white dwarfs, such as He-shell mergers, tidal disruption events, violent mergers. Distinguishing between these explosion scenarios and understanding their diversity is vital for producing the best samples for future precision measurements of the cosmological parameters.