Monday, November 28, 2011

A tiny flame shines light on supernova explosions

New 3-D calculations provide insights into what happens the moment a white dwarf star transitions into a supernova.
By American Institute of Physics, College Park, Maryland Published: November 28, 2011
flame propagates
This figure shows four snapshots in time as the flame propagates initially subsonically outward reaching a specified density (green) at which point the flame transitions to a detonation. Shown in color is a reaction progress variable describing the burning of nuclear statistical quasi-equilibrium (NSQE) products to nuclear statistical equilibrium (NSE) products. The blue contour marks the separation between the previously convective core and the isothermal outer layer. Note that the scale of the right-most figure is larger than the other three.
Starting with the behavior of small flames in the laboratory, a team of researchers has gained new insights into the titanic forces that drive type Ia supernova explosions. These stellar explosions are important tools for studying the evolution of the universe, so a better understanding of how they behave would help answer some of the fundamental questions in astronomy.


Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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