University of California scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory working with astronomers from around the world recently validated a computer model that predicts the rebirth and stellar burning and mixing processes of evolved stars. The discovery is a leap forward in our understanding of how stars like the sun evolve through violent outbursts during their evolution.
In research published recently in the journal Science, Laboratory astrophysicist Falk Herwig and his colleagues describe how Herwig’s computer model was recently corroborated by radio telescope observations made at the Very Large Array (VLA) in Socorro, N.M. The radio signals collected by the VLA indicate that a star in the constellation Sagittarius known as V4334 Sgr, or Sakurais Object, is about to re-illuminate it’s planetary nebula for the second time, initiating a new phase in the spectacular evolution of this enigmatic star. This never before seen event is another step in a complex chain of events initially triggered by a nuclear burst after the star had already become a hot white dwarf.
Computer simulations of the stellar outburst made nearly 10 years ago by Herwig and others had predicted this series of physics events that would lead up to the rejuvenated planetary nebula. However, V4334 Sgr failed to follow the script as events moved many times more quickly than the simulations predicted. In 2001, Herwig proposed a new fast-evolving model, claiming the problem may be the way in which nuclear burning and rapid mixing was simulated.
Todd Hanson | EurekAlert!
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