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How to make the brightest supernova ever: Explode, collapse, repeat

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posted on Nov, 14 2007 @ 06:35 PM
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Fascinating news article:

How to make the brightest supernova ever: Explode, collapse, repeat

A supernova observed last year was so bright--about 100 times as luminous as a typical supernova--that it challenged the theoretical understanding of what causes supernovae. But Stan Woosley, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, had an idea that he thought could account for it--an extremely massive star that undergoes repeated explosions. When Woosley and two colleages worked out the detailed calculations for their model, the results matched the observations of the supernova known as SN 2006gy, the brightest ever recorded.

The researchers describe the model in a paper to be published in the November 15 issue of the journal Nature. Woosley's coauthors are Sergei Blinnikov, a visiting researcher at UCSC from the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics in Moscow, and Alexander Heger of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"This was a stupendously bright supernova, and we think we have the leading model to explain it. It's a new mechanism for making a supernova, and for doing it again and again in the same star," Woosley said. "We usually think of a supernova as the death of a star, but in this case the same star can blow up half a dozen times."

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


Wow, that's incredible! I had read somewhere that a star can actually blow up more than once, but I didn't know it could blow up repeatedly up to a half dozen times.

The article continues to describe how the explosions produce 'shells' that move outward from the star. It seems that when a second explosion's shell collides with the shell of a previous explosion, the impact causes the matter-mix to glow more brightly than it should. That makes sense. Kind of reminds me of how GRBs work -- you get the initial gamma ray pulse, followed by X-ray and then visible light.




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