Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Seeing triple: New 3-D model could solve supernova mystery


How massive stars explode remains a mystery; However, recent work led by Michigan State University may bring some answers to this astronomical question

Giant stars die a violent death. After a life of several million years, they collapse into themselves and then explode in what is known as a supernova.

The final seconds in the life of a very massive star are captured in 3-D by an MSU-led team of scientists. This is the first time a 3-D model of such a star has been developed and could lead to a better understanding of why these stars blow up as supernovae.

Photo courtesy of S.M. Couch

How these stars explode remains a mystery. However, recent work led by Michigan State University may bring some answers to this astronomical question.

In a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the team details how it developed a three-dimensional model of a giant star's last moments.

"This is something that has never been done before," said Sean Couch, an MSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy and lead author of the paper. "This is a significant step toward understanding how these stars blow up."

The ongoing problem is that, until now, researchers have only been able to do this in one-dimension. Nature, of course, is three-dimensional.

"We were always using one-D models that don't actually occur in nature," Couch said.

What allowed the researchers to break the 3-D barrier is new developments in technology. "There are new resources, both hardware and software, that allow this to now be feasible," Couch said.

Until now, computer models did not match what was observed in the real world.

"We just couldn't get the darn things to blow up," he said. "And that was a problem because that's what happens in nature. It was telling us that we were missing something."

The other problem the 3-D model addresses is the actual shape of the star. Older computer models yielded stars that were perfectly spherical. However, that is not what real stars look like, and this new work shows that the messy details matter for understanding supernova explosions.

Millions of years of nuclear burning in massive stars results in central cores made of inert iron. This iron cannot be used by the star as fuel. Eventually, without any fuel source, the star collapses from its own tremendous gravitational pull.

"This is what we see in our simulation process," Couch said. "The iron core building up to where it can no longer support itself and down it comes."

He said the development of the 3-D model is an early stop in pinning down the reasons why stars explode, but could completely change the way scientists approach the supernova mechanism.


Other members of the research team are Emmanouil Chatzopoulos of the University of Chicago; W. David Arnett from the University of Arizona; and F.X. Timmes from Arizona State University.

Couch and Timmes also are affiliated with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, a National Science Foundation-funded center partly housed at MSU which studies how the elements found throughout the universe first came to be.

Parts of this work also were carried out at the California Institute of Technology prior to Couch joining MSU.

Tom Oswald | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

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

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

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

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>