Don't Blink: Constraining the Circumstellar Environment of the Interacting Type Ia Supernova 2015cp

C. E. Harris, P. E. Nugent, A. Horesh, J. S. Bright, R. P. Fender, M. L. Graham, K. Maguire, M. Smith, N. Butler, S. Valenti, A. V. Filippenko, O. Fox, A. Goobar, P. L. Kelly, K. J. Shen

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Despite their cosmological utility, the progenitors of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are still unknown, with many efforts focused on whether accretion from a nondegenerate companion can grow a carbon-oxygen white dwarf to near the Chandrasekhar mass. The association of SNe Ia resembling SN 1991T ("91T-like") with circumstellar interaction may be evidence for this "single-degenerate" channel. However, the observed circumstellar medium (CSM) in these interacting systems is unlike a stellar wind - of particular interest, it is sometimes detached from the stellar surface, residing at ∼1016 cm. A Hubble Space Telescope (HST) program to discover detached CSM around 91T-like SNe Ia successfully discovered interaction nearly two years after explosion in SN 2015cp (Graham et al. 2018). In this work, we present radio and X-ray follow-up observations of SN 2015cp and analyze them in the framework of Harris et al. (2016) to limit the properties of a constant-density CSM shell in this system. Assuming the HST detection took place shortly after the shock crossed the CSM, we constrain the total CSM mass in this system to be <0.5 . This limit is comparable to the CSM mass of supernova PTF11kx, but does not rule out lower masses predicted for recurrent novae. From lessons learned modeling PTF11kx and SN 2015cp, we suggest a strategy for future observations of these events to increase the sample of known interacting SNe Ia.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number21
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

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© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • binaries: symbiotic
  • stars: mass-loss
  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual (SN 2015cp)


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