Supernovae as stellar objects
W. Hillebrandt, M. Reinecke, J.C. Niemeyer
Max-Planck-Institut f\"ur Astrophysik, Garching, Germany

Type Ia supernovae (SN Ia) are generally believed to be the result of the thermonuclear disruption of Chandrasekhar-mass carbon-oxygen white dwarfs, mainly because such thermonuclear explosions can account for the right amount of $^{56}$Ni, which is needed to explain the light curves and the late-time spectra, and the abundances of intermediate-mass nuclei which dominate the spectra near maximum light. Because of their enormous brightness and apparent homogeneity SN Ia have become an important tool to measure cosmological parameters. In this article the present understanding of the physics of thermonuclear explosions is reviewed. In particular, we focus our attention on subsonic (``deflagration'') fronts, i.e. we investigate fronts propagating by heat diffusion and convection rather than by compression. Models based upon this mode of nuclear burning have been applied very successfully to the SN Ia problem, and are able to reproduce many of their observed features remarkably well. However, the models also indicate that SN Ia may differ considerably from each other, which is of importance if they are to be used as standard candles.