This award will support a theoretical investigation of recently-discovered supernovae with unusual characteristics. New surveys are digging up large numbers of supernovae of all types, and some relatively rare events have now been thoroughly studied. The goal of the project is to see if these supernovae can be explained as resulting from thermonuclear supernovae in which the total mass of the exploded white dwarf does not necessarily equal the maximum allowed (Chandraskehar) mass. The PI will explore double degenerate mergers, helium shell explosions, and accretion induced collapse events, and will compare observations of light curves, spectra, and polarization to the output of models that include sophisticated radiation transport codes.
The project will allow direct comparisons between theory and observation, which will help observers explain new discoveries, and help modelers to stay rooted in actual data. This group will also organize a summer school on high-performance computing, which will draw 50 students. The goal of the school is to give students hands-on experience with production scientific codes, which will help produce the next generation of computational astrophysicists.