Kippenhahn Prize 2013 for Tyrone Woods

In November, the MPA awarded Tyrone Woods with the annual Rudolph Kippenhahn Prize for his paper "He II recombination lines as a test of the nature of SN Ia progenitors in elliptical galaxies", which appeared in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The prize committee congratulated Tyrone Woods for his novel approach and the comprehensive nature of the investigation and pointed out that he conducted his project in an independent and self-driven manner.

Abb. 1: Simon White presents the Certificate for the Kippenhahn-Prize to Tyrone Woods © MPA.

In his paper, Tyrone Woods proposed a novel approach to study the progenitors of Type Ia supernovae. The question of which progenitor channel is responsible for the majority of Type Ia supernovae remains unresolved, with single and double degenerate scenarios remaining the leading contenders. The former would imply a large population of hot, accreting white dwarf stars, which would contribute significantly to the ionizing UV radiation. Modelling the expected emission, Tyrone showed that one can constrain the contribution of the single degenerate channel to the SNIa rate in early-type galaxies from upper limits on the luminosity in certain helium recombination lines. This theoretical work triggered a large effort by a bigger group of scientists to search for this recombination line in the optical spectra of passive galaxies.

The Rudolph Kippenhahn prize is awarded annually to the best scientific paper written by an MPA student. This year, the committee had to appraise eight submissions – there were actually nine, but one will be eligible for next year’s prize. The prize is awarded jointly by the institute and its former director, after whom it is named, to recognize originality, a large impact on science but also the quality of writing for a publication to which students themselves made a substantial contribution.

Original publication:

He II recombination lines as a test of the nature of SN Ia progenitors in elliptical galaxies Woods, T.E. and M. Gilfanov linkPfeilExtern.gifMon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 432, 1640-1650