We may better understand supernovae after this new discovery

08/05/2022
Credit image: pixabay images
Credit image: pixabay images

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 08 May 2022, at 08:28 am Los Angeles time

A new RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research scientists' project used computer modeling to create a hypothetical model of the evolution of a D6 supernova type at a scale of thousands of years.

Scientists tend to understand as much as possible about supernovae, as they have helped to make many discoveries throughout history, including the discovery of the expansion of the universe and its acceleration, as well as the measurement of different distances.

Supernovae are formed by the explosion of a white dwarf (an almost dead star). So, researchers must first start from there and then understand the evolution of the created object - the supernova -.

The problem is that we don't yet have a concrete idea of ​​ what caused this explosion.

However, a recent discovery of hyperfast white dwarfs (which moves extremely fast), may help to better understand the supernovae, especially the D6-type ones that this recent research deals with.

This type of white dwarf suggests that the explosion that begins the process of creating the supernova is in turn generated by an explosion.

In a scenario of two-star in a binary system, one of the two stars suffers what is known as "double detonation", in which a layer of helium on the surface suffers an explosion that generates another explosion, actually in the carbon-oxygen core of the star.

After this last explosion, the star is destroyed resulting in a white dwarf, so that the other star escapes the gravitational attraction of the exploded star, thus being thrown with immense speeds into distant space.

However, astronomers have so far known little about what the debris would look like after these explosions.

In order to study this and show more details about the phenomenon, the team of scientists simulated the evolution of the remains left over thousands of years, thus observing some characteristics of the parent system, which according to them could be similar to the one in the presented scenario.

In short, it gave researchers the opportunity to "physically" probe a supernova, just like in a virtual environment.

"The D6 supernova explosion has a specific shape. We were not confident that it would be visible in the remnant long after the initial event, but actually we found that there is a specific signature that we can still see thousands of years after the explosion," said Gilles Ferrand, the first author of the study.

"This is a very important finding, because it could have an impact on the use of Ia supernovae as cosmic yardsticks. They were once believed to originate from a single phenomenon, but if they are diverse, then it might require a reevaluation of how we use them." said Shigehiro Nagataki, the leader of the Astrophysical Big Bang Laboratory at RIKEN . 

"Moving forward, we plan to learn how to more precisely compute the X-ray emission, taking into account the composition and state of the shocked plasma, in order to make direct comparisons with observations. We hope that our paper will give new ideas to observers, of what to look for in supernova remnants." continued Gilles.

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