Type Ia supernovae are violent stellar explosions. Observations of their brightness are used to determine distances in the universe and have shown scientists that the cosmos is expanding at an accelerating rate. But there is still too little known about the specifics of the processes by which these supernovae form. New research, led by Stella Kafka of the Carnegie Institution for Science in the United States, identifies a star system, prior to explosion, which will possibly become a type Ia supernova. The work will appear in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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A composite X-ray / optical / infrared image of the remnant of Tycho's star, a type Ia supernova seen in 1572, is available at http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap090317.html (http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap090317.html)
The new work appears in the paper "QU Carinae: Supernova Ia in the making?" S. Kafka, K. Honeycutt, B. Williams, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press. A preprint of the paper can be seen at http://arxiv.org/abs/1206.6798 (http://arxiv.org/abs/1206.6798)
Notes for editors
This work was funded, in part, by the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
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