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Supernovae and earthbound chemical explosions are surprisingly similar

19 Nov 2019, 15:48 UTC
Supernovae and earthbound chemical explosions are surprisingly similar
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Despite their enormous differences in size, type 1a supernovae and chemical explosions on Earth detonate via similar physical mechanisms – according to a team led by Alexei Poludnenko at Texas A&M University and the University of Connecticut. The researchers uncovered the similarity by comparing computer simulations of stellar explosions with observations of chemical detonations. Their discovery could provide new insights into the poorly understood processes of supernovae explosions.

A type 1a supernova (SN1a) is thought to occur when a white-dwarf star in a binary system acquires enough material from its companion star to reach a critical mass — at which point a runaway thermonuclear fusion reaction causes the star to explode. Beyond this basic description, however, a more complete understanding of the mechanics involved in SN1a explosions is lacking – and several different theoretical models of SN1a remain equally plausible.
Most theories of SN1a assume that the huge explosion is triggered by the formation of a supersonic detonation wave that causes the thermonuclear burning of all stellar material it encounters as it expands. Yet the processes that initiate detonation are poorly understood in unconfined systems like white-dwarf interiors. These systems are extremely difficult to describe using numerical models ...

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