Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Physics and Astronomy
Supernovae (SNe) are titanic explosions that end the life of stars. Fast expanding ejecta can create brightness that is comparable to the entire luminosity of the host galaxy for weeks. Eventually, the ejecta run into the ambient medium, creating the so-called supernova remnant (SNR) that fades away in ~ 10,000 years. SNe come from two completely different mechanisms. The Type Ia SNe (SNIa) are powered by thermonuclear runaway when a white dwarf (WD) in a binary system accretes enough mass from a companion star. The Core Collapse supernovae (CCSNe) are massive stars that run out of fuel at the end of their lives and collapse. The basic scenario for SNIa is well established, but the type of the binary system containing the WD is the long-debated 'Type Ia Progenitor Problem'. (1) Searching for an ex-companion within a SNIa SNR would directly solve this problem as a binary system including two WDs should leave nothing behind, while others should leave a non-degenerate star near the site of the explosion. One of the results from this thesis is the determination of the explosion site of Tycho's SN (SN 1572). From this, I reject popular ex-companion candidates, e.g. Tycho star 'G' and a few other ones as they are too far away from the explosion site I determined. (2) Another attempt to address this problem is carried out by studying a rare kind of Type Ia SNe. Detailed photometric and spectral analysis indicates that ASASSN-14dc resembles features from the so-called SN Ia-CSM, in which, a SNIa explodes inside of dense Hydrogen-rich Circumstellar Material (CSM). The origin of the CSM brings serious questions to the traditional views of SNIa formation as none of them can comfortably explain the derived mass and distribution of the CSM. A recent realization of a particular model might solve a lot of puzzles around this rare class of SNIa. (3) CCSNe are known to be massive stars that rapidly evolve off the main sequence and soon explode. Nearly 80% of such stars have one or more massive companion stars, and these companions will survive the SN event with nearly the same luminosity in most cases. Interestingly, there is a runaway O-type star, Muzzio 10, that sits just 18'' to the north of PSR B1509-58 in SNR G320.4-01.2. This makes Muzzio 10 a remarkable object for an ex-companion candidate. I will present the result from using HST and Chandra to measure both the O star and the pulsar's proper motion and to see whether they came from the same spot.
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Xue, Zhichao, "Ex-companions of Supernovae Progenitors" (2017). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 4456.