Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Astronomers catch binary star explosion inside nebula

The explosion of a binary star inside a planetary nebula has been captured by a team led by UCL (University College London) researchers – an event that has not been witnessed for more than 100 years.

The study, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, predicts that the combined mass of the two stars in the system may be high enough for the stars to eventually spiral into each other, triggering a much bigger supernova explosion.

Dr Roger Wesson, UCL Physics and Astronomy, says: “At the ends of their lives, some stars undergo nova explosions, caused by nuclear reactions on their surface. In August 2007, one such exploding star was discovered in a part of the sky that had serendipitously been observed by us only a few weeks previously. The pre-explosion images showed that this particular star was surrounded by a planetary nebula.

“Although several novae are discovered each year in our Galaxy, this is only the second time that a nova has been seen inside a planetary nebula, the first being over 100 years ago. Now, the light flash from the explosion is passing through and illuminating the surrounding nebula. This object poses a major challenge to current theories of how stars evolve and could be a Rosetta Stone in understanding some aspects of the lives of stars.”

“The pre-explosion images were taken as part of the Isaac Newton Telescope Photometric HAlpha Survey (IPHAS), the first digital survey of the Milky Way in visible light, and the most comprehensive yet in the light emitted by hydrogen (the most abundant element in the universe).

“The star which erupted was a nova, an event caused when matter is transferred from one star in a close binary system onto its companion, eventually triggering a runaway thermonuclear explosion. The nebula surrounding this nova is a planetary nebula, which must have formed during an earlier phase in the binary star's existence, when the outer layers of one of the companions were expelled. Only one previous nova has been seen to occur inside a planetary nebula – Nova Persei in 1901. The opportunity to watch in detail as the nova flash interacts with the nebula is a first in astronomy.

“The new nova, known as V458 Vulpeculae, provides an important test for models of how stars evolve. Our analysis also suggests that the combined mass of the two stars which produced the explosion could be high enough that eventually, the two stars will spiral into each other, producing a much larger supernova explosion. The role of novae as potential future supernovae has thus far been difficult to analyse in detail, and so V458 Vul provides an opportunity to learn more about this aspect of stellar evolution.”

Jenny Gimpel | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>