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Supernova lightcurve population synthesis

Faculty of Science

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Dr JJ Eldridge Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Core-collapse supernovae are the explosive deaths of stars. With modern observing surveys we are discovering more of these events than ever before and finding they are incredibly diverse. The two main questions we have around these events are "what was the nature of the star that exploded?" and "what is the nature of energy source that exploded the star?".

For the first question one way to answer this if the supernova is nearby enough is to look in pre-explosion images for an image of the star before it exploded. However this has only been possible for 50 of the thousands of events we’ve seen to date. Alternatively we can attempt to model the supernova itself to constrain the nature of the star. A problem arises as this also depends on the second question concerning the nature of the explosion.

With the supernova lightCURVE POPulation Synthesis (CURVEPOPS) project we have begun to show that it is possible to gain insight into the answers of both questions by modelling the supernovae (Eldridge et al., 2018 & 2019). The aim of this project is to extend this work.

The CURVEPOPS project uses the supernova progenitor models calculated by the Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis (BPASS) code. The set of stellar models is the only one calculated taking account of the interaction between stars in binary systems and calculating the structure of the stars in detail so they can be exploded in a supernova simulation code. To date we have only exploded 1000 of the 100,000 models that we expect to explode in supernovae. Therefore the project is to explore the variety of supernovae that realistic stellar models will produce. Eldridge et al. (2018) showed that much of the diversity in hydrogen-rich supernovae is likely due to binary interactions. We expect many more important findings from continuing this work. Including determining the nature of hydrogen-free supernovae, long-gamma-ray bursts and superluminous supernovae.

More information on the BPASS and CURVEPOPS projects can be found at the BPASS website: (

Funding Notes

The projects are intended for self-funded PhD students and students who are eligible for the general scholarships offered by the University of Auckland; see

International students are also encouraged to explore funding opportunities in their home countries for studying abroad.


Eldridge et al. (2018, PASA, 35, 49,
Eldridge et al. (2019, PASA, in press,
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