The Spectacular Ultraviolet Flash From the Peculiar Type Ia Supernova 2019yvq


Early observations of Type Ia supernovae (SNe$,$Ia) provide essential clues for understanding the progenitor system that gave rise to the terminal thermonuclear explosion. We present exquisite observations of SN$,$2019yvq, the second observed SN$,$Ia, after iPTF$,$14atg, to display an early flash of emission in the ultraviolet (UV) and optical. Our analysis finds that SN$,$2019yvq was unusual, even when ignoring the initial flash, in that it was moderately underluminous for an SN$,$Ia ($Mg approx -18.5,$mag at peak) yet featured very high absorption velocities ($v approx 15,000,mathrm{km,s}^{-1}$ for Si II $lambda$6355 at peak). We find that many of the observational features of SN$,$2019yvq, aside from the flash, can be explained if the explosive yield of radioactive $^{56}mathrm{Ni}$ is relatively low (we measure $M{^{56}mathrm{Ni}} = 0.31 pm 0.05,M_odot$) and it and other iron-group elements are concentrated in the innermost layers of the ejecta. To explain both the UV/optical flash and peak properties of SN$,$2019yvq we consider four different models: interaction between the SN ejecta and a nondegenerate companion, extended clumps of $^{56}mathrm{Ni}$ in the outer ejecta, a double-detonation explosion, and the violent merger of two white dwarfs. Each of these models has shortcomings when compared to the observations; it is clear additional tuning is required to better match SN$,$2019yvq. In closing, we predict that the nebular spectra of SN$,$2019yvq will feature either H or He emission, if the ejecta collided with a companion, strong [Ca II] emission, if it was a double detonation, or narrow [O I] emission, if it was due to a violent merger.