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Type Ib and Ic supernovae

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The Type Ib supernova Supernova 2008D[1][2] in galaxy NGC 2770, shown in X-ray (left) and visible light (right), at the corresponding positions of the images. NASA image.[3]

Types Ib and Ic supernovae are categories of stellar explosions that are caused by the core collapse of massive stars. These stars have shed (or been stripped of) their outer envelope of hydrogen, and, when compared to the spectrum of Type Ia supernovae, they lack the absorption line of silicon. Compared to Type Ib, Type Ic supernovae are hypothesized to have lost more of their initial envelope, including most of their helium. The two types are usually referred to as stripped core-collapse supernovae.


When a supernova is observed, it can be categorized in the MinkowskiZwicky supernova classification scheme based upon the absorption lines that appear in its spectrum.[4] A supernova is first categorized as either a Type I or Type II, then sub-categorized based on more specific traits. Supernovae belonging to the general category Type I lack hydrogen lines in their spectra; in contrast to Type II supernovae which do display lines of hydrogen. The Type I category is sub-divided into Type Ia, Type Ib and Type Ic supernovae.[5]

Type Ib/Ic supernovae are distinguished from Type Ia by the lack of an absorption line of singly ionized silicon at a wavelength of 635.5 nanometres.[6] As Type Ib/Ic supernovae age, they also display lines from elements such as oxygen, calcium and magnesium. In contrast, Type Ia spectra become dominated by lines of iron.[7] Type Ic supernovae are distinguished from Type Ib in that the former also lack lines of helium at 587.6 nm.[7]


The onion-like layers of an evolved, massive star (not to scale).

Prior to becoming a supernova, an evolved massive star is organized in the manner of an onion, with layers of different elements undergoing fusion. The outermost layer consists of hydrogen, followed by helium, carbon, oxygen, and so forth. Thus when the outer envelope of hydrogen is shed, this exposes the next layer that consists primarily of helium (mixed with other elements). This can occur when a very hot, massive star reaches a point in its evolution when significant mass loss is occurring from its stellar wind. Highly massive stars (with 25 or more times the mass of the Sun) can lose up to 10−5 solar masses each year—the equivalent of a solar mass every 100,000 years.[8]

Type Ib and Ic supernovae are hypothesized to have been produced by core collapse of massive stars that have lost their outer layer of hydrogen and helium, either via winds or mass transfer to a companion.[6] The progenitors of Types Ib and Ic have lost most of their outer envelopes due to strong stellar winds or else from interaction with a close companion of about 3–4 solar masses.[9][10] Rapid mass loss can occur in the case a Wolf-Rayet star, and these massive objects show a spectrum that is lacking in hydrogen. Type Ib progenitors have ejected most of the hydrogen in their outer atmospheres, while Type Ic progenitors have lost both the hydrogen and helium shells; in other words, Type Ic have lost more of their envelope (i.e., much of the helium layer) than the progenitors of Type Ib.[6] In other respects, however, the underlying mechanism behind Type Ib and Ic supernovae is similar to that of a Type II supernova, thus placing Type Ib/c between Type Ia and Type II.[6] Because of their similarity, Type Ib and Ic supernovae are sometimes collectively called Type Ibc supernovae.[11]

There is some evidence that a small percent of the Type Ic supernovae may be the progenitors of gamma ray bursts (GRB), though it is also hypothesized that any hydrogen-stripped Type Ib or Ic supernova could be a GRB, dependent upon the geometry of the explosion.[12] In any case, astronomers believe that most Type Ib, and probably Type Ic as well, result from core collapse in stripped, massive stars, rather than from the thermonuclear runaway of white dwarfs.[6]

As they are formed from rare, very massive stars, the rate of Type Ib and Ic supernovae occurrence is much lower than the corresponding rate for Type II supernovae.[13] They normally occur in regions of new star formation, and have never been observed in an elliptical galaxy.[10] Because they share a similar operating mechanism, Type Ib/c and the various Type II supernovae are collectively called core-collapse supernovae. In particular, Type Ib/c may be referred to as stripped core-collapse supernovae.[6]

Light curves

The light curves (a plot of luminosity versus time) of Type Ib supernovae vary in form, but in some cases can be nearly identical to those of Type Ia supernovae. However, Type Ib light curves may peak at lower luminosity and may be redder. In the infrared portion of the spectrum, the light curve of a Type Ib supernova is similar to a Type II-L light curve. (See Supernova.)[14] Type Ib supernovae usually have slower decline rates for the spectral curves than Ic.[6]

Type Ia supernovae light curves are useful for measuring distances on a cosmological scale. That is, they serve as standard candles. However, due to the similarity of the spectra of Type Ib and Ic supernovae, the latter can form a source of contamination of supernova surveys and must be carefully removed from the observed samples before making distance estimates.[15]

See also


  1. Malesani, D. (2008). "Early spectroscopic identification of SN 2008D". Astrophys. J.692:L84-L87; Astrophys.J.Lett.692:L84-L87,2009. 692 (2): L84–L87. arXiv:0805.1188Freely accessible. Bibcode:2009ApJ...692L..84M. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/692/2/L84.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  2. Soderberg, A.M. (2008). "An extremely luminous X-ray outburst at the birth of a supernova". Nature. 453 (7194): 469. arXiv:0802.1712Freely accessible. Bibcode:2008Natur.453..469S. doi:10.1038/nature06997. PMID 18497815.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  3. Naeye, R. (21 May 2008). "NASA's Swift Satellite Catches First Supernova in the Act of Exploding". NASA/GSFC. Retrieved 2008-05-22.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  4. da Silva, L.A.L. (1993). "The Classification of Supernovae". Astrophysics and Space Science. 202 (2): 215–236. Bibcode:1993Ap&SS.202..215D. doi:10.1007/BF00626878. 
  5. Montes, M. (12 February 2002). "Supernova Taxonomy". Naval Research Laboratory. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 A bot will complete this citation soon. Click here to jump the queue MISSING LINK.. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Type Ib Supernova Spectra". COSMOS - The SAO Encyclopedia of Astronomy. Swinburne University of Technology. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  8. Dray, L.M.; Tout, C.A.; Karaks, A.I.; Lattanzio, J.C. (2003). "Chemical enrichment by Wolf-Rayet and asymptotic giant branch stars". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 338 (4): 973–989. Bibcode:2003MNRAS.338..973D. doi:10.1046/j.1365-8711.2003.06142.x. 
  9. Pols, O. (26 October – 1 November 1995). "Close Binary Progenitors of Type Ib/Ic and IIb/II-L Supernovae". Proceedings of The Third Pacific Rim Conference on Recent Development on Binary Star Research. Chiang Mai, Thailand. pp. 153–158. Bibcode:1997rdbs.conf..153P. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Woosley, S. E.; Eastman, R.G. (June 20–30, 1995). "Type Ib and Ic Supernovae: Models and Spectra". Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Study Institute. Begur, Girona, Spain: Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 821. Bibcode:1997thsu.conf..821W. 
  11. Williams, A.J. "Initial Statistics from the Perth Automated Supernova Search". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. 14 (2): 208–13. Bibcode:1997PASA...14..208W. 
  12. Ryder, S.D. (2004). "Modulations in the radio light curve of the Type IIb supernova 2001ig: evidence for a Wolf-Rayet binary progenitor?". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 349 (3): 1093–1100. arXiv:astro-ph/0401135Freely accessible. Bibcode:2004MNRAS.349.1093R. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2004.07589.x.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  13. Sadler, E.M.; Campbell, D. (1997). "A first estimate of the radio supernova rate". Astronomical Society of Australia. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  14. Tsvetkov, D.Yu. (1987). "Light curves of type Ib supernova: SN 1984l in NGC 991". Soviet Astronomy Letters. 13: 376–378. Bibcode:1987SvAL...13..376T. 
  15. Homeier, N.L. (2005). "The Effect of Type Ibc Contamination in Cosmological Supernova Samples". The Astrophysical Journal. 620 (1): 12–20. arXiv:astro-ph/0410593Freely accessible. Bibcode:2005ApJ...620...12H. doi:10.1086/427060.