Type Iax Supernovae: A new class of stellar explosion

Ryan J. Foley, P. J. Challis, R. Chornock, M. Ganeshalingam, W. Li, G. H. Marion, N. I. Morrell, G. Pignata, M. D. Stritzinger, J. M. Silverman, X. Wang, J. P. Anderson, A. V. Filippenko, W. L. Freedman, M. Hamuy, S. W. Jha, R. P. Kirshner, C. McCully, S. E. Persson, M. M. PhillipsD. E. Reichart, A. M. Soderberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe observed properties of the Type Iax class of supernovae (SNe Iax), consisting of SNe observationally similar to its prototypical member, SN 2002cx. The class currently has 25 members, and we present optical photometry and/or optical spectroscopy for most of them. SNe Iax are spectroscopically similar to SNe Ia, but have lower maximum-light velocities (2000 ≲ |v| ≲ 8000 km s-1), typically lower peak magnitudes (-14.2 ≥ M V, peak ≳ -18.9 mag), and most have hot photospheres. Relative to SNe Ia, SNe Iax have low luminosities for their light-curve shape. There is a correlation between luminosity and light-curve shape, similar to that of SNe Ia, but offset from that of SNe Ia and with larger scatter. Despite a host-galaxy morphology distribution that is highly skewed to late-type galaxies without any SNe Iax discovered in elliptical galaxies, there are several indications that the progenitor stars are white dwarfs (WDs): evidence of C/O burning in their maximum-light spectra, low (typically t0.5 M ·) ejecta masses, strong Fe lines in their late-time spectra, a lack of X-ray detections, and deep limits on massive stars and star formation at the SN sites. However, two SNe Iax show strong He lines in their spectra. The progenitor system and explosion model that best fits all of the data is a binary system of a C/O WD that accretes matter from a He star and has a deflagration. At least some of the time, this explosion will not disrupt the WD. The small number of SNe in this class prohibit a detailed analysis of the homogeneity and heterogeneity of the entire class. We estimate that in a given volume there are SNe Iax for every 100 SNe Ia, and for every 1 M · of iron generated by SNe Ia at z = 0, SNe Iax generate t0.036 M·. Being the largest class of peculiar SNe, thousands of SNe Iax will be discovered by LSST. Future detailed observations of SNe Iax should further our understanding of both their progenitor systems and explosions as well as those of SNe Ia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number57
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • supernovae: general
  • supernovae: individual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Type Iax Supernovae: A new class of stellar explosion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this