Why Wont the Supernova Explode?
It’s a real mystery as scientists don’t know yet how it’s possible…
All the supercomputers are unable to reproduce what we see when a supernova explode:
Somewhere in the Milky Way, a massive old star is about to die a spectacular death. As its nuclear fuel runs out, the star begins to collapse
under its own tremendous weight. Crushing pressure triggers new nuclear reactions, setting the stage for a terrifying blast. And then… nothing
At least that’s what supercomputers have been telling astrophysicists for decades. Many of the best computer models of supernovas fail to produce an
explosion. At the end of the simulation, gravity wins the day and the star simply collapses.
Clearly, physicists are missing something.
“We don’t fully understand how supernovas of massive stars work yet,” says Fiona Harrison, an astrophysicist at the California Institute of
To figure out what’s going on, Harrison and colleagues would like to examine the inside of a real supernova while it’s exploding. That’s not
possible, so they’re doing the next best thing.
Using a telescope named “NuSTAR” –short for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array — they’ll be scanning the debris from supernovas as soon as
possible after the blast.
A supercomputer model of a spinning core-collapse supernova. NuSTAR observations of actual supernova remnants will provide vital data for
such models. Credit: Fiona Harrison
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