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  • Constraining the origin of type Ia supernova progenitor and explosion diversity using MUSE

    Supervisors: Phil James (ARI, LJMU), Joe Anderson (ESO, Chile) and Lluis Galbany (Universidad de Chile)

    Type Ia SNe (SNe Ia) are one of the most powerful tools for understanding the Universe, while being extremely interesting objects to understand in their own right. They are thought to arise from the explosion of white dwarf systems, and have been used as accurate distance indicators to probe the expansion rate of the Universe. However, the exact details of their progenitors, explosions, and understanding of transient diversity are still lacking. SNe Ia with different properties appear to prefer to explode in different types of galaxies, indicating differences in progenitor properties such as age and/or chemical abundance. However, studies into the immediate environments of these explosions within galaxies are lacking.

    This project aims at constraining SN Ia progenitors, and refining the use of these explosions as distance indicators, through analysis of wide-field integral field spectroscopy of their host galaxies. MUSE is a recently commissioned instrument at the VLT, which combines a wide-field with high spatial resolution to obtain 90,000 spectra in one telescope pointing. This project will focus on the analysis of data from this instrument, with 99 hours of observing time having been allocated to this project in December 2014. This will enable us to analyse the host galaxies and immediate environments of SNe Ia in a manner not previously possible. Observations of galaxies will be combined with high quality SN light-curve and spectral information to realise an unprecedented study of SN Ia, and as a side-product will generate a huge database of information about the chemical abundances and star-formation properties of the host galaxies.