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Journal Article

A spectroscopic quadruple as a possible progenitor of sub-Chandrasekhar type Ia supernovae


Hamers,  Adrian S.
High Energy Astrophysics, MPI for Astrophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Merle, T., Hamers, A. S., Eck, S. V., Jorissen, A., der Swaelmen, M. V., Pollard, K., et al. (2022). A spectroscopic quadruple as a possible progenitor of sub-Chandrasekhar type Ia supernovae. Nature astronomy, 2022(6), 681-688. doi:10.1038/s41550-022-01664-5.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-5573-4
Binaries have received much attention as possible progenitors of type Ia supernova explosions, but long-term gravitational effects in tight triple or quadruple systems could also play a key role in producing type Ia supernovae. Here we report on the properties of a spectroscopic quadruple found within a star cluster: the 2 + 2 hierarchical system HD 74438. Its membership in the open cluster IC 2391 makes it the youngest (43 Myr) spectroscopic quadruple known to us, and among the quadruple systems with the shortest outer orbital period. The eccentricity of the 6 yr outer period is 0.46, and the two inner orbits, with periods of 20.6 d and 4.4 d and eccentricities of 0.36 and 0.15, are not coplanar. Using an innovative combination of ground-based high-resolution spectroscopy and Gaia/Hipparcos astrometry, we show that this system is undergoing secular interaction, which probably pumped the eccentricity of one of the inner orbits higher than expected for the spectral types of its components. We compute the future evolution of HD 74438 and show that this system is an excellent candidate progenitor of sub-Chandrasekhar type Ia supernovae through white dwarf mergers. Taking into account the contribution of this specific type of type Ia supernova accounts for the chemical evolution of iron-peak elements in the Galaxy better than considering only near Chandrasekhar-mass type Ia supernovae.