The late-time light curve of the Type Ia supernova SN 2011fe
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review
We present late-time optical R-band imaging data from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) for the nearby Type Ia supernova SN 2011fe. The stacked PTF light curve provides densely sampled coverage down to R similar or equal to 22 mag over 200-620 d past explosion. Combining with literature data, we estimate the pseudo-bolometric light curve for this event from 200 to 1600 d after explosion, and constrain the likely near-infrared (Near-IR) contribution. This light curve shows a smooth decline consistent with radioactive decay, except over similar to 450 to similar to 600 d where the light curve appears to decrease faster than expected based on the radioactive isotopes presumed to be present, before flattening at around 600 d. We model the 200-1600 d pseudo-bolometric light curve with the luminosity generated by the radioactive decay chains of Ni-56, Ni-57 and Co-55, and find it is not consistent with models that have full positron trapping and no infrared catastrophe (IRC); some additional energy escape other than optical/near-IR photons is required. However, the light curve is consistent with models that allow for positron escape (reaching 75 per cent by day 500) and/or an IRC (with 85 per cent of the flux emerging in non-optical wavelengths by day 600). The presence of the Ni-57 decay chain is robustly detected, but the Co-55 decay chain is not formally required, with an upper mass limit estimated at 0.014M(circle dot). The measurement of the Ni-57/Ni-56 mass ratio is subject to significant systematic uncertainties, but all of our fits require a high ratio >0.031 (> 1.3 in solar abundances).