Scientists have been able to view a supernova explosion in extraordinary detail for the first time. The latest observation has been reported in the Journal Nature. These explosions are very complex and dynamic process.
Dr Michael Ireland of the Australian National University, one of the study’s authors said, “Bright novae go off every few years, but this is the first to have occurred in good weather since the development of reliable optical telescope interferometers. Everything has come together to give us a really good look at one.”
A star in the Galaxy M82 is exploding and it is visible, the M82 is a galaxy which is filled with stars which are being created and destroyed.
A supernova explosion is a thermo nuclear explosion of hydrogen on the surface of the dead star also known as White Dwarf. When a White Dwarf comes in the close proximity of a companion star, it can suck hydrogen off the star to its own surface. As the hydrogen ocean reaches a depth of 200 meters, the gravity produced is enough to trigger a thermonuclear fusion reaction. The explosion which is practically a stellar atomic explosion is visible many light years away.
A supernova exploded on August 14th 2013 some 14,800 light-years away in the constellation Delphinus. The new star has been named Nova Delphinus and within hours of its discovery Ireland and colleagues started focusing their telescopes of the CHARA array in California toward the expanding nova fireball.
The CHARA Array is essentially a collection of six optical telescopes in a process known as interferometery, and creates high resolution images. The supernova had by this time expanded and now as big as the Earth’s orbit. By the time the final observation was made after 43 days the event had expanded to the size of Neptune’s orbit.
The supernova explosion is not straightforward as it seems and the process is very complex and not well understood.
Ireland said, “We found the initial nova explosion wasn’t spherical, giving the fireball a slightly elliptical shape. This happens because the white dwarf’s atmosphere is spinning, and there’s a disk of accreted material falling onto it from the companion star, so there’s a lot happening to prevent the system from being spherical when it goes bang.”