Wednesday, January 9, 2013

1301.1368 (Kelly Lepo et al.)

Rapidly accreting white dwarfs as supernova type Ia progenitors    [PDF]

Kelly Lepo, Marten van Kerkwijk
The nature of the progenitors of type Ia supernovae is still a mystery. While plausible candidates are known for both the single degenerate and double degenerate models, the observed numbers fall significantly short of what is required to reproduce the type Ia supernovae rate. Some of the most promising single-degenerate type Ia progenitors are recurrent novae and super-soft sources (SSS). White dwarfs with higher mass transfer rates can also be type Ia supernova progenitors. For these rapidly accreting white dwarfs (RAWD), more material than is needed for steady burning accretes on the white dwarf, and extends the white dwarf's photosphere. Unlike super-soft sources, such objects will likely not be detectable at soft X-ray energies, but will be bright at longer wavelengths, such as the far ultraviolet (UV). Possible examples include LMC N66 and the V Sagittae stars. We present a survey using multi-object spectrographs looking for RAWD in the central core of the SMC, from objects selected to be bright in the far UV and with blue far UV-V colors. While we find some unusual objects, and recover known planetary nebula and WR stars, we detect no candidate RAWD. The upper limits from this non-detection depending on our expectations of what a RAWD should look like, as well assumptions about the internal extinction of the SMC. Assuming they resemble LMC N66 or fainter versions of Wolf-Rayet stars we set an upper limit of 10-14 RAWD in the SMC. However, our survey is unlikely to detect objects like V Sge, and hence we cannot set meaningful upper limits if RAWD generally resemble these.
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