CfA OIR Division Lunch Talks
Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 11:00 am, Pratt Conference Room

The Explosive Deaths of Massive Stars

Iair Arcavi (Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel)

Core collapse supernovae (SNe) are highly heterogeneous and mark the various ways in which massive stars end their lives. Explaining the observed diversity remains a key unsolved problem. The effects of mass, metallicity, binarity and rotation on the evolution and subsequent explosions of massive stars are not well understood. Large samples of events, recently collected through single untargeted surveys unlock a new observational approach to this problem. By comparing the light curve shapes of numerous SNe we find three distinct sub-types of H-rich events, pointing towards different mechanisms at work and hinting at the effects of binarity. Discovering SNe in a range of host galaxy types and luminosities has allowed us to elucidate the significance of metallicity in creating different types of stripped SN progenitors. Early discovery and rapid followup enable us to constrain additional properties of SN progenitors, including their radius and pre-explosion structure. As more data is gathered, we approach a more complete understanding of the mysteries behind these explosive events.