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Shocking discovery explains powerful novae

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:25 pm

Employing two powerful telescopes, astronomers at Michigan State University have proven a theory that explains these super-luminous novae and other astronomical explosions. The results, published in the current issue of Nature Astronomy, indicate that powerful shockwaves amplify the explosions beyond any traditional scale for nuclear explosions.

"Astronomers have long thought the energy from novae was dominated by the white dwarf, controlling how much light and energy are emitted," said Laura Chomiuk, MSU astronomer and study co-author. "What we discovered, however, was a completely different source of energy – shockwaves that can dominate the entire explosion."

As the explosion begins, it ejects a cooler, slower wave of gaseous material, relatively speaking. Behind it, though, is a hot, fast wave speeding right behind it. The collision of the two ejections produces a shockwave, which results in a spectacular explosion of heat and light.

"The bigger the shock, the brighter the nova," Chomiuk said. "We believe it's the speed of the second wave that influences the explosion."

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:27 pm

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Credit: Michigan State University

In a typical year, there are around 50 novae, nuclear explosions on the surface of white dwarf stars, in our galaxy. Some of these explosions are so bright and powerful, they exceed the scale of scientific explanation.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:29 pm



Video from the 'Cosmic Cinema' series by the Max Planck Institute of Astrophysics regarding Nova (a cataclysmic nuclear explosion caused by the accretion of hydrogen from a neighbouring star onto the surface of white dwarf.

 
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