Constraints on explosive silicon burning in core-collapse supernovae from measured Ni/Fe ratios

A Jerkstrand, F X Timmes, G Magkotsios, S A Sim, C Fransson, J Spyromilio, B Mueller, A Heger, J Sollerman, S J Smartt

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Measurements of explosive nucleosynthesis yields in core-collapse supernovae provide tests for explosion models. We investigate constraints on explosive conditions derivable from measured amounts of nickel and iron after radioactive decays using nucleosynthesis networks with parameterized thermodynamic trajectories. The Ni/Fe ratio is for most regimes dominated by the production ratio of 58Ni/(54Fe + 56Ni), which tends to grow with higher neutron excess and with higher entropy. For SN 2012ec, a supernova (SN) that produced a Ni/Fe ratio of 3.4 ± 1.2 times solar, we find that burning of a fuel with neutron excess η ≈ 6 × 10-3 is required. Unless the progenitor metallicity is over five times solar, the only layer in the progenitor with such a neutron excess is the silicon shell. SNe producing large amounts of stable nickel thus suggest that this deep-lying layer can be, at least partially, ejected in the explosion. We find that common spherically symmetric models of MZAMS ≲ 13 M⊙ stars exploding with a delay time of less than one second (Mcut < 1.5 M⊙) are able to achieve such silicon-shell ejection. SNe that produce solar or subsolar Ni/Fe ratios, such as SN 1987A, must instead have burnt and ejected only oxygen-shell material, which allows a lower limit to the mass cut to be set. Finally, we find that the extreme Ni/Fe value of 60-75 times solar derived for the Crab cannot be reproduced by any realistic entropy burning outside the iron core, and neutrino-neutronization obtained in electron capture models remains the only viable explanation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • nuclear reactions
  • nucleosynthesis
  • abundances
  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual (SN 2012ec, Crab, SN 1987A)

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