NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0264

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0264


PI: Alicia Soderberg, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, asoderberg@cfa.harvard.edu
Address: Theory Division, MS-51, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Title: A New Search for Supersoft Source Ionization Nebulae in the Magellanic Clouds

Abstract: Type Ia supernovae are famous for their use as cosmological candles, however we are still in the dark as to the nature of their progenitors (accreting white dwarfs). Supersoft X-ray sources (SSS) are popularly believed to be good candidates for Type Ia supernova progenitors and many have been identified in the local Universe; their observed X-ray luminosity represents the current accretion rate, but in the context of Type Ia progenitors, we are interested in the accretion \it history of these objects. Ionization nebulae with 10-100 pc radii have been predicted for these luminous and hot sources, and may reveal the time- averaged luminosity of the system, a direct clue as to the accretion history. Historical narrow-band imaging of the nearest SSSs revealed a single nebula discovery. We propose to revisit this problem, 15 years later, with the unparalleled sensitivity of Gemini/GMOS, to shed light on the properties of the nearest five SSSs and implications for the accretion history and environments of Type Ia SN progenitors.


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