SN 2020jgb: A Peculiar Type Ia Supernova Triggered by a Helium-shell Detonation in a Star-forming Galaxy

April 2023 • 2023ApJ...946...83L

Authors • Liu, Chang • Miller, Adam A. • Polin, Abigail • Nugent, Anya E. • De, Kishalay • Nugent, Peter E. • Schulze, Steve • Gal-Yam, Avishay • Fremling, Christoffer • Anand, Shreya • Andreoni, Igor • Blanchard, Peter • Brink, Thomas G. • Dhawan, Suhail • Filippenko, Alexei V. • Maguire, Kate • Schweyer, Tassilo • Sears, Huei • Sharma, Yashvi • Graham, Matthew J. • Groom, Steven L. • Hale, David • Kasliwal, Mansi M. • Masci, Frank J. • Purdum, Josiah • Racine, Benjamin • Sollerman, Jesper • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.

Abstract • The detonation of a thin (≲0.03 M ) helium shell (He-shell) atop a ~1 M white dwarf (WD) is a promising mechanism to explain normal Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), while thicker He-shells and less massive WDs may explain some recently observed peculiar SNe Ia. We present observations of SN 2020jgb, a peculiar SN Ia discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). Near maximum brightness, SN 2020jgb is slightly subluminous (ZTF g-band absolute magnitude -18.7 mag ≲ M g ≲ -18.2 mag depending on the amount of host-galaxy extinction) and shows an unusually red color (0.2 mag ≲ g ZTF - r ZTF ≲ 0.4 mag) due to strong line-blanketing blueward of ~5000 Å. These properties resemble those of SN 2018byg, a peculiar SN Ia consistent with an He-shell double detonation (DDet) SN. Using detailed radiative transfer models, we show that the optical spectroscopic and photometric evolution of SN 2020jgb is broadly consistent with a ~0.95-1.00 M (C/O core + He-shell) progenitor ignited by a ≳0.1 M He-shell. However, one-dimensional radiative transfer models without non-local-thermodynamic-equilibrium treatment cannot accurately characterize the line-blanketing features, making the actual shell mass uncertain. We detect a prominent absorption feature at ~1 μm in the near-infrared (NIR) spectrum of SN 2020jgb, which might originate from unburnt helium in the outermost ejecta. While the sample size is limited, we find similar 1 μm features in all the peculiar He-shell DDet candidates with NIR spectra obtained to date. SN 2020jgb is also the first peculiar He-shell DDet SN discovered in a star-forming dwarf galaxy, indisputably showing that He-shell DDet SNe occur in both star-forming and passive galaxies, consistent with the normal SN Ia population.


IPAC Authors

Frank Masci

Senior Scientist