NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011B-0373

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Proposal Information for 2011B-0373


PI: D. Andrew Howell, Las Cumbres Observatory / University of California Santa Barbara, ahowell@lcogt.net
Address: 6740 Cortona Dr., Santa Barbara, CA 93111, USA

CoI: Mark Sullivan, Oxford University
CoI: Jerod Parrent, Las Cumbres Observatory / Dartmouth College
CoI: Peter Nugent, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
CoI: Richard Ellis, Caltech
CoI: Avishay Gal-Yam, Weizmann Institute
CoI: Isobel Hook, Oxford University
CoI: Ben Dilday, Las Cumberes Observatory / University of California Santa Barbara
CoI: Kate Maguire, Oxford University

Title: Type Ia supernovae: the progenitor revolution

Abstract: We have discovered a major obstacle in the use of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) as standard candles: SNe Ia in high and low-mass galaxies correct to different absolute magnitudes. The progenitors matter. Yet we are ignorant of them: everything we know about SNe Ia is from the ashes - material synthesized in the exploson. For the first time we have studied the fuel, finding, surprisingly, that not all SNe Ia burn completely - in 30% of cases, we see carbon from the progenitor. But does this correspond to differences in progenitor scenarios? Does it correlate with SN Ia luminosity or environment? Does metallicity drive environmental differences? Now we have redesigned our search strategy with a two day cadence, and our Gemini strategy to probe SN Ia progenitors on three fronts. With this proposal we will: (1) build the first significant sample of early-time SN Ia spectra with signs of progenitor material, (2) trigger and obtain concurrent ground-based spectra for our Cycle 18 HST STIS ToO program probing progenitor metallcity, and (3) trigger our Keck program looking for circumstellar material in high resolution spectra, which has recently tied a SN Ia to a likely recurrent nova progenitor.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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