Type Iax Supernovae

Reference work entry


Type Iax supernovae (SN Iax), also called SN 2002cx-like supernovae, are the largest class of “peculiar” white dwarf (thermonuclear) supernovae, with over 50 members known. SN Iax have lower ejecta velocity and lower luminosities, and these parameters span a much wider range, than normal type Ia supernovae (SN Ia). SN Iax are spectroscopically similar to some SN Ia near maximum light, but are unique among all supernovae in their late-time spectra, which never become fully “nebular.” SN Iax overwhelmingly occur in late-type host galaxies, implying a relatively young population. The SN Iax 2012Z is the only white dwarf supernova for which a pre-explosion progenitor system has been detected. A variety of models have been proposed, but one leading scenario has emerged: a type Iax supernova may be a pure deflagration explosion of a carbon-oxygen (or hybrid carbon-oxygen-neon) white dwarf, triggered by helium accretion to the Chandrasekhar mass, that does not necessarily fully disrupt the star.



I thank Ryan Foley and Curtis McCully for our close collaboration working on SN Iax and their assistance with this manuscript. I am also grateful to Mark Sullivan, Daniela Graf, and Kerstin Beckert for their seemingly inexhaustible patience. This work was supported in part by the US National Science Foundation award 161545 and benefited greatly from discussions at the Munich Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics Scientific Program “The Physics of Supernovae” and associated Topical Workshop “Supernovae: The Outliers.” I dedicate this review to the memory of my friend and colleague, Weidong Li, who started it all.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyRutgers, The State University of New JerseyPiscatawayUSA

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