Superluminous Supernovae: a first attempt to develop a physical model
Prof P. A. Mazzali
Historically, two main types of SNe have been identified: Thermonuclear (Type Ia) and core collapse (all the rest).
Recently, with the increased effort in observing SNe, new classes have been discovered that do not seem to conform with the paradigm above. One particularly interesting group is Superluminous SNe (SLSNe). As their name indicates, these are the most luminous transient events recorded. They can outshine SNe Ia by orders of magnitude, and can consequently be observed at cosmological distances.
This is however the only characteristic they have in common. SLSNe show a range of behaviours, suggesting that different physical events are called SLSNe. These may include Pair Instability SNe (the explosion of stars with mass exceeding 100 solar masses); interacting SNe, where the luminosity derives largely from the collision of SN ejecta with surrounding gas; magnetar-driven explosions of massive stars (40-80 solar masses).
This aim of this project is to understand what mechanisms can drive the observed phenomena. The student will start by becoming familiar with the available data and with SN theory in general. He/she will then try to apply or adapt existing models to the observations in order to test different scenarios. This may include using and modifying radiation transport tools or developing new ones specifically tailored for this class of events.