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.
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!
Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology
22.08.2017 | Université libre de Bruxelles
Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences