Daniel Kasen - UC Berkeley

Daniel Kasen
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Daniel Kasen
UC Berkeley
United States

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High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (37)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (18)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (15)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (6)
General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (4)
Nuclear Theory (3)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (1)
Physics - Fluid Dynamics (1)

Publications Authored By Daniel Kasen

We present a radiative transfer code to model the nebular phase spectra of supernovae (SNe) in non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE). We apply it to a systematic study of Type Ia SNe using parameterized 1D models and show how nebular spectral features depend on key physical parameters, such as the time since explosion, total ejecta mass, kinetic energy, radial density profile, and the masses of 56Ni, intermediate mass elements (IMEs), and stable iron-group elements (IGEs). We also quantify the impact of uncertainties in atomic data inputs. Read More

We investigate the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements in the winds ejected by accretion disks formed in neutron star mergers. We compute the element formation in disk outflows from hypermassive neutron star (HMNS) remnants of variable lifetime, including the effect of angular momentum transport in the disk evolution. We employ long-term axisymmetric hydrodynamic disk simulations to model the ejecta, and compute r-process nucleosynthesis with tracer particles using a nuclear reaction network containing $\sim 8000$ species. Read More

We investigate the ejecta from black hole - neutron star mergers by modeling the formation and interaction of mass ejected in a tidal tail and a disk wind. The outflows are neutron-rich, giving rise to optical/infrared emission powered by the radioactive decay of $r$-process elements (a kilonova). Here we perform an end-to-end study of this phenomenon, where we start from the output of a fully-relativistic merger simulation, calculate the post-merger hydrodynamical evolution of the ejecta and disk winds including neutrino physics, determine the final nucleosynthetic yields using post-processing nuclear reaction network calculations, and compute the kilonova emission with a radiative transfer code. Read More

Neutron star-black hole binaries are among the strongest sources of gravitational waves detectable by current observatories. They can also power bright electromagnetic signals (gamma-ray bursts, kilonovae), and may be a significant source of production of r-process nuclei. A misalignment of the black hole spin with respect to the orbital angular momentum leads to precession of that spin and of the orbital plane, and has a significant effect on the properties of the post-merger remnant and of the material ejected by the merger. Read More

We present optical spectra of the nearby Type Ia supernova SN 2011fe at 100, 205, 311, 349, and 578 days post-maximum light, as well as an ultraviolet spectrum obtained with Hubble Space Telescope at 360 days post-maximum light. We compare these observations with synthetic spectra produced with the radiative transfer code PHOENIX. The day +100 spectrum can be well fit with models which neglect collisional and radiative data for forbidden lines. Read More

We present stellar evolution calculations of the remnant of the merger of two carbon-oxygen white dwarfs (CO WDs). We focus on cases that have a total mass in excess of the Chandrasekhar mass. After the merger, the remnant manifests as an $L \sim 3 \times 10^4 L_\odot$ source for $\sim 10^4$ yr. Read More

One of the most promising electromagnetic signatures of compact object mergers are kilonovae: approximately isotropic radioactively-powered transients that peak days to weeks post-merger. Key uncertainties in modeling kilonovae include the emission profiles of the radioactive decay products---non-thermal beta- and alpha-particles, fission fragments, and gamma-rays---and the efficiency with which they deposit their energy in the ejecta. The total radioactive energy and the efficiency of its thermalization sets the luminosity budget and is therefore necessary for predicting kilonova light curves. Read More

For decades, a wide variety of observations spanning the radio through optical and on to the x-ray have attempted to uncover signs of type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) interacting with a circumstellar medium (CSM). The goal of these studies is to constrain the nature of the hypothesized SN Ia mass-donor companion. A continuous CSM is typically assumed when interpreting observations of interaction. Read More

Synchrotron emission from a supernova necessitates a magnetic field, but it is unknown how strong the relevant magnetic fields are, and what mechanism generates them. In this study, we perform high-resolution numerical gas dynamics calculations to determine the growth of turbulence due to Rayleigh-Taylor instability, and the resulting kinetic energy in turbulent fluctuations, to infer the strength of magnetic fields amplified by this turbulence. We find that Rayleigh-Taylor instability can produce turbulent fluctuations strong enough to amplify magnetic fields to a few percent of equipartition with the thermal energy. Read More

Empirical constraints on reionization require galactic ionizing photon escape fractions fesc>20%, but recent high-resolution radiation-hydrodynamic calculations have consistently found much lower values ~1-5%. While these models include strong stellar feedback and additional processes such as runaway stars, they almost exclusively consider stellar evolution models based on single (isolated) stars, despite the fact that most massive stars are in binaries. We re-visit these calculations, combining radiative transfer and high-resolution cosmological simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project. Read More

We examine the late-time (t > 200 days after peak brightness) spectra of Type Iax supernovae (SNe Iax), a low-luminosity, low-energy class of thermonuclear stellar explosions observationally similar to, but distinct from, Type Ia supernovae. We present new spectra of SN 2014dt, resulting in the most complete published late-time spectral sequence of a SN Iax. At late times, SNe Iax have generally similar spectra, all with a similar continuum shape and strong forbidden-line emission. Read More

We present a Hubble Space Telescope STIS spectrum of ASASSN-14li, the first rest-frame UV spectrum of a tidal disruption flare (TDF). The underlying continuum is well fit by a blackbody with $T_{\mathrm{UV}} = 3.5 \times 10^{4}$ K, an order of magnitude smaller than the temperature inferred from X-ray spectra (and significantly more precise than previous efforts based on optical and near-UV photometry). Read More

Observations of luminous flares resulting from the possible tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes have raised a number of puzzles. Outstanding questions include the origin of the optical and ultraviolet (UV) flux, the weakness of hydrogen lines in the spectrum, and the occasional simultaneous observation of x-rays. Here we study the emission from tidal disruption events (TDEs) produced as radiation from black hole accretion propagates through an extended, optically thick envelope formed from stellar debris. Read More

We develop analytic and numerical models of the properties of super-Eddington stellar winds, motivated by phases in stellar evolution when super-Eddington energy deposition (via, e.g., unstable fusion, wave heating, or a binary companion) heats a region near the stellar surface. Read More

Strongly-magnetized, rapidly-rotating neutron stars are contenders for the central engines of both long-duration gamma-ray bursts (LGRBs) and hydrogen-poor super-luminous supernovae (SLSNe-I). Models for typical (~minute long) LGRBs invoke magnetars with high dipole magnetic fields (Bd > 1e15 G) and short spin-down times, while models for SLSNe-I invoke neutron stars with weaker fields and longer spin-down times of weeks. Here we identify a transition region in the space of Bd and birth period for which a magnetar can power both a long GRB and a luminous SN. Read More

In this paper, we model the observable signatures of tidal disruptions of white dwarf (WD) stars by massive black holes (MBHs) of moderate mass, $\approx 10^3 - 10^5 M_\odot$. When the WD passes deep enough within the MBH's tidal field, these signatures include thermonuclear transients from burning during maximum compression. We combine a hydrodynamic simulation that includes nuclear burning of the disruption of a $0. Read More

The light curves of some luminous supernovae are suspected to be powered by the spindown energy of a rapidly rotating magnetar. Here we describe a possible signature of the central engine: a burst of shock breakout emission occurring several days after the supernova explosion. The energy input from the magnetar inflates a high-pressure bubble that drives a shock through the pre-exploded supernova ejecta. Read More

We present a series of high-resolution (20-2000 Msun, 0.1-4 pc) cosmological zoom-in simulations at z~6 from the Feedback In Realistic Environment (FIRE) project. These simulations cover halo masses 10^9-10^11 Msun and rest-frame ultraviolet magnitude Muv = -9 to -19. Read More

We carry out direct numerical simulations of turbulent astrophysical media that explicitly track ionizations, recombinations, and species-by-species radiative cooling. The simulations assume solar composition and follows the evolution of hydrogen, helium, carbon, oxygen, sodium, and magnesium, but they do not include the presence of an ionizing background. In this case, the medium reaches a global steady state that is purely a function of the one-dimensional turbulent velocity dispersion, $\sigma_{\rm 1D},$ and the product of the mean density and the driving scale of turbulence, $n L. Read More

We explore the evolution of the different ejecta components generated during the merger of a neutron star (NS) and a black hole (BH). Our focus is the interplay between material ejected dynamically during the merger, and the wind launched on a viscous timescale by the remnant accretion disk. These components are expected to contribute to an electromagnetic transient and to produce r-process elements, each with a different signature when considered separately. Read More

We study the radioactively-powered transients produced by accretion disk winds following a compact object merger. Starting with the outflows generated in two-dimensional hydrodynamical disk models, we use wavelength-dependent radiative transfer calculations to generate synthetic light curves and spectra. We show that the brightness and color of the resulting kilonova transients carry information about the merger physics. Read More

The accretion disk that forms after a neutron star merger is a source of neutron-rich ejecta. The ejected material contributes to a radioactively-powered electromagnetic transient, with properties that depend sensitively on the composition of the outflow. Here we investigate how the spin of the black hole remnant influences mass ejection on the thermal and viscous timescales. Read More

The merger of binary neutron stars (NSs) ejects a small quantity of neutron rich matter, the radioactive decay of which powers a day to week long thermal transient known as a kilonova. Most of the ejecta remains sufficiently dense during its expansion that all neutrons are captured into nuclei during the r-process. However, recent general relativistic merger simulations by Bauswein and collaborators show that a small fraction of the ejected mass (a few per cent, or ~1e-4 Msun) expands sufficiently rapidly for most neutrons to avoid capture. Read More

We explore the application of Monte Carlo transport methods to solving coupled radiation-hydrodynamics problems. We use a time-dependent, frequency-dependent, 3-dimensional radiation transport code, that is special relativistic and includes some detailed microphysical interactions such as resonant line scattering. We couple the transport code to two different 1-dimensional (non-relativistic) hydrodynamics solvers: a spherical Lagrangian scheme and a Eulerian Godunov solver. Read More

Merging carbon-oxygen (CO) white dwarfs are a promising progenitor system for Type Ia supernovae (SN Ia), but the underlying physics and timing of the detonation are still debated. If an explosion occurs after the secondary star is fully disrupted, the exploding primary will expand into a dense CO medium that may still have a disk-like structure. This interaction will decelerate and distort the ejecta. Read More

Merging white dwarfs are a possible progenitor of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia). While it is not entirely clear if and when an explosion is triggered in such systems, numerical models suggest that a detonation might be initiated before the stars have coalesced to form a single compact object. Here we study such "peri-merger" detonations by means of numerical simulations, modeling the disruption and nucleosynthesis of the stars until the ejecta reach the coasting phase. Read More

Transient surveys have recently discovered a class of supernovae (SNe) with extremely rapidly declining light curves. These events are also often relatively faint, especially compared to Type Ia SNe. The common explanation for these events involves a weak explosion, producing a radioactive outflow with small ejected mass and kinetic energy (M ~ 0. Read More

Cosmological hydrodynamic simulations predict the physical state of baryons in the circumgalactic medium (CGM), which can be directly tested via quasar absorption line observations. We use high resolution "zoom-in" simulations of 21 galaxies to characterize the distribution of neutral hydrogen around halos in the mass range M_vir~ 2x10^11 - 4x10^12 M_sun at z~2. We find that both the mass fraction of cool (T <= 3x10^4 K) gas and the covering fraction of optically-thick Lyman limit systems (LLSs) depend only weakly on halo mass, even around the critical value for the formation of stable virial shocks. Read More

We present nebular spectra of the nearby Type IIb supernova (SN) 2011dh taken between 201 and 678 days after core collapse. At these late times, SN 2011dh exhibits strong emission lines including a very broad and persistent H{\alpha} feature. New models of the nebular spectra confirm that the progenitor of SN 2011dh was a low-mass giant (M ~ 13 - 15 M_sun) that ejected ~0. Read More

The merger of two white dwarfs may be preceded by the ejection of some mass in "tidal tails", creating a circumstellar medium around the system. We consider the variety of observational signatures from this material, which depend on the lag time between the start of the merger and the ultimate explosion (assuming one occurs) of the system in a Type Ia supernova. If the time lag is fairly short, the interaction of the supernova ejecta with the tails could lead to detectable shock emission at radio, optical, and/or x-ray wavelengths. Read More

The coalescence of compact objects are a promising astrophysical sources of gravitational wave (GW) signals. The ejection of r-process material from such mergers may lead to a radioactively-powered electromagnetic counterpart which, if discovered, would enhance the science return of a GW detection. As very little is known about the optical properties of heavy r-process elements, previous light curve models have adopted opacities similar to those of iron group elements. Read More

Material ejected during (or immediately following) the merger of two neutron stars may assemble into heavy elements by the r-process. The subsequent radioactive decay of the nuclei can power electromagnetic emission similar to, but significantly dimmer than, an ordinary supernova. Identifying such events is an important goal of future transient surveys, offering new perspectives on the origin of r-process nuclei and the astrophysical sources of gravitational waves. Read More

Some fraction of the material ejected in a core collapse supernova explosion may remain bound to the compact remnant, and eventually turn around and fall back. We show that the late time (> days) power associated with the accretion of this "fallback" material may significantly affect the optical light curve, in some cases producing super-luminous or otherwise peculiar supernovae. We use spherically symmetric hydrodynamical models to estimate the accretion rate at late times for a range of progenitor masses and radii and explosion energies. Read More

Observational and theoretical arguments suggest that the momentum carried in mass outflows from AGN can reach several times L / c, corresponding to outflow rates of hundreds of solar masses per year. Radiation pressure on lines alone may not be sufficient to provide this momentum deposition, and the transfer of reprocessed IR radiation in dusty nuclear gas has been postulated to provide the extra enhancement. The efficacy of this mechanism, however, will be sensitive to multi-dimensional effects such as the tendency for the reprocessed radiation to preferentially escape along sight-lines of lower column density. Read More

Pristine stars with masses between ~140 and 260 M_sun are theoretically predicted to die as pair-instability supernovae. These very massive progenitors could come from Pop III stars in the early universe. We model the light curves and spectra of pair-instability supernovae over a range of masses and envelope structures. Read More

Stars with helium cores between ~64 and 133 M_sun are theoretically predicted to die as pair-instability supernovae. This requires very massive progenitors, which are theoretically prohibited for Pop II/I stars within the Galactic stellar mass limit due to mass loss via line-driven winds. However, the runaway collision of stars in a dense, young star cluster could create a merged star with sufficient mass to end its life as a pair-instability supernova, even with enhanced mass loss at non-zero metallicity. Read More

While a white dwarf is, from a theoretical perspective, the most plausible primary star in Type Ia supernova (SN Ia), many other candidates have not been formally ruled out. Shock energy deposited in the envelope of any exploding primary contributes to the early SN brightness and, since this radiation energy is degraded by expansion after the explosion, the diffusive luminosity depends on the initial primary radius. We present a new non-detection limit of the nearby SN Ia 2011fe, obtained what appears to be just 4 hours after explosion, allowing us to directly constrain the initial primary radius, R_p. Read More

Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) have been used empirically as standardized candles to reveal the accelerating universe even though fundamental details, such as the nature of the progenitor system and how the star explodes, remained a mystery. There is consensus that a white dwarf star explodes after accreting matter in a binary system, but the secondary could be anything from a main sequence star to a red giant, or even another white dwarf. The uncertainty stems from the fact that no recent SN Ia has been discovered close enough to detect the stars before explosion. Read More

In this paper, we present a model for the long-term evolution of the merger of two unequal mass C/O white dwarfs (WDs). After the dynamical phase of the merger, magnetic stresses rapidly redistribute angular momentum, leading to nearly solid-body rotation on a viscous timescale of 1e-4 to 1 yr, long before significant cooling can occur. Due to heating during the dynamical and viscous phases, the less massive WD is transformed into a hot, slowly rotating, and radially extended envelope supported by thermal pressure. Read More

We present optical and near-infrared photometry, as well as ground-based optical spectra and Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet spectra, of the Type Ia supernova (SN) 2001ay. At maximum light the Si II and Mg II lines indicated expansion velocities of 14,000 km/sec, while Si III and S II showed velocities of 9,000 km/sec There is also evidence for some unburned carbon at 12,000 km/sec. SN 2001ay exhibited a decline-rate parameter Delta m_15(B) = 0. Read More

Hydro cosmological simulations reveal that massive galaxies at high redshift are fed by long narrow streams of merging galaxies and a smoother component of cold gas. We post-process seven high-resolution simulated galaxies with radiative transfer to study the absorption characteristics of the gas in galaxies and streams, in comparison with the statistics of observed absorption-line systems. We find that much of the stream gas is ionized by UV radiation from background and local stellar sources, but still optically thick (N_HI > 10^17 cm^-2) so that the streams appear as Lyman-limit systems (LLSs). Read More

Affiliations: 1UC Santa Cruz, UCO/Lick, 2UC Berkeley, 3UC Santa Cruz, UCO/Lick

We analyze the absorption and emission-line profiles produced by a set of simple, cool gas wind models motivated by galactic-scale outflow observations. We implement monte carlo radiative transfer techniques that track the propagation of scattered and fluorescent photons to generate 1D spectra and 2D spectral images. We focus on the MgII 2796,28303 doublet and FeII UV1 multiplet at ~2600A, but the results are applicable to other transitions that trace outflows (e. Read More

For the initial mass range (140 < M < 260 Msun) stars die in a thermonuclear runaway triggered by the pair-production instability. The supernovae they make can be remarkably energetic (up to ~10^53 ergs) and synthesize considerable amounts of radioactive isotopes. Here we model the evolution, explosion, and observational signatures of representative pair-instability supernovae (PI SNe) spanning a range of initial masses and envelope structures. Read More

The vast majority of Type II supernovae (SNe) are produced by red supergiants (RSGs), but SN 1987A revealed that blue supergiants (BSGs) can produce members of this class as well, albeit with some peculiar properties. This best studied event revolutionized our understanding of SNe, and linking it to the bulk of Type II events is essential. We present here optical photometry and spectroscopy gathered for SN 2000cb, which is clearly not a standard Type II SN and yet is not a SN 1987A analog. Read More

We use a sample of 121 spectroscopically normal Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) to show that their intrinsic color is correlated with their ejecta velocity, as measured from the blueshift of the Si II 6355 feature near maximum brightness, v_Si. The SN Ia sample was originally used by Wang et al. (2009) to show that the relationship between color excess and peak magnitude, which in the absence of intrinsic color differences describes a reddening law, was different for two subsamples split by v_Si (defined as "Normal" and "High-Velocity"). Read More

For carbon-oxygen white dwarfs accreting hydrogen or helium at rates in the range ~1-10 x 10^(-8) Msun/y, a variety of explosive outcomes is possible well before the star reaches the Chandrasekhar mass. These outcomes are surveyed for a range of white dwarf masses (0.7 - 1. Read More

From the set of nearly 500 spectroscopically confirmed type~Ia supernovae and around 10,000 unconfirmed candidates from SDSS-II, we select a subset of 108 confirmed SNe Ia with well-observed early-time light curves to search for signatures from shock interaction of the supernova with a companion star. No evidence for shock emission is seen; however, the cadence and photometric noise could hide a weak shock signal. We simulate shocked light curves using SN Ia templates and a simple, Gaussian shock model to emulate the noise properties of the SDSS-II sample and estimate the detectability of the shock interaction signal as a function of shock amplitude, shock width, and shock fraction. Read More

Affiliations: 1UCO/Lick Observatory, 2UCO/Lick Observatory, 3CITA, 4CITA, 5UCO/Lick Observatory, 6UCO/Lick Observatory, 7UCO/Lick Observatory

We study the kinematically narrow, low-ionization line emission from a bright, starburst galaxy at z = 0.69 using slit spectroscopy obtained with Keck/LRIS. The spectrum reveals strong absorption in MgII and FeII resonance transitions with Doppler shifts of -200 to -300 km/s, indicating a cool gas outflow. Read More

During the early evolution of an AM CVn system, helium is accreted onto the surface of a white dwarf under conditions suitable for unstable thermonuclear ignition. The turbulent motions induced by the convective burning phase in the He envelope become strong enough to influence the propagation of burning fronts and may result in the onset of a detonation. Such an outcome would yield radioactive isotopes and a faint rapidly rising thermonuclear ". Read More