The white widow model: A new scenario for the birth of Type Ia supernovae

The white widow model: A new scenario for the birth of Type Ia supernovae
Optical and X-ray Composite Image of SNR 0509-67.5. Credit: NASA, ESA, and B. Schaefer and A. Pagnotta

J. Craig Wheeler has studied the exploding stars called supernovae for more than four decades. Now he has a new idea on the identity of the "parents" of one of the most important types of supernovae—the Type Ia, those used as "standard candles" in cosmology studies that led to the discovery of dark energy, the mysterious force causing the universe's expansion to speed up. 

Wheeler lays out his case for supernova parentage in the current issue of The . He explains why he thinks the parents of Type Ia could be a made up of (the burnt-out remnant of a Sun-like star) and a particular type of small star called an "M dwarf." 

In the paper, he explains that current theories for Type Ia parents don't correctly match up with telescope data on actual supernovae. 

There are two main models today that attempt to explain how are born. One is called a "single-degenerate model," in which a binary star is made up of a degenerate, or , called a white dwarf paired with a younger star. Over time, as the orbit each other, the white dwarf's gravity siphons gas from the atmosphere of its partner star until the white dwarf becomes so massive and dense that it ignites, triggering an immense

Wheeler wrote the first scientific paper invoking this idea in 1971. Astronomers have been trying to identify what type of star the partner must be ever since. 

The other, more recent, theory for building a Type Ia supernova is known as the "double-degenerate model." Here, it takes two white dwarfs in a binary system spiraling together and colliding to create a Type Ia supernova. 

The telescope data support neither completely, Wheeler says. 

The white widow model: A new scenario for the birth of Type Ia supernovae
The remnant of Tycho's Supernova was also searched for a left-behind partner star without success. Credit: from NASA.

Astronomers have carefully observed supernovae for decades. In the best-case scenario, a supernova is watched from the time it is discovered and becomes extremely bright, until its fades from view. Its light signature, or spectrum, changes over that time. Any models of supernova parents must reproduce an evolving spectrum that matches that of actual supernovae. 

"I believe that the spectra have to be respected," Wheeler said. "The really high-order constraint [on a supernova model] is to get the spectral evolution correct. That is, you've got to get all the bumps and wiggles, and they've got to be in the right place at the right times." 

Telescope observations in the last few years have considerably narrowed the possibilities on which models work, he said, "putting tighter and tighter constraints on whether any companion star exists and what kind of star it can be." 

Now, Wheeler thinks maybe a new twist on the single-degenerate model can fill the bill. He says pairing the white dwarf with an M dwarf could do the trick. 

"M dwarfs are the most common star in the galaxy, and are the second-most common star in the galaxy," he said. "And there's lots of M dwarf-white dwarf binary systems. Do they make Type Ia supernovas? That's another question." 

In the paper, he lays out evidence why he thinks the M dwarf is a good candidate: 

First, M dwarfs are dim. In recent years, astronomers using large telescopes have looked hard at the gaseous remnants left behind by Type Ia supernovae for the partner star that would be left behind after the white dwarf detonated. "One thing blows up as a supernova, the other thing's got to be left behind," Wheeler said. "Where is it? We don't see it." 

Small, red M dwarfs are dim enough to work—even the most massive M dwarf would not show up on Hubble Space Telescope observations. And it's even possible, Wheeler said, that the white dwarf could have devoured the entire M dwarf before the white dwarf exploded. M dwarfs don't have heavy cores to leave behind. 

Wheeler calls this scenario a "white widow system," a play on words referencing the stellar binaries known as "black widow systems," in which a neutron star eats its stellar companion. In the "white widow" case, the predator is a white dwarf. 

The second reason the M dwarf is likely the white dwarf's co-parent in producing Type Ia supernovae is that M dwarfs are magnetic. "They flare, they do all sorts of crazy things," Wheeler said. His thought experiment supposes that the white dwarf is magnetic as well. "That's the thrust of the paper, to think about what happens if both stars are magnetic," he said. 

Though astronomers studying other types of stars have included magnetic fields in their theories, "it's just a completely different part of parameter space to bring in the role of magnetic fields in the supernova game," Wheeler said. But "it is the way nature works. Things are magnetic. The Sun is magnetic; the Earth is magnetic. The magnetic fields are there. Are they big enough to do something?" 

If a magnetic white dwarf and a magnetic M dwarf are in a binary star pair, Wheeler said, their opposite magnetic poles would attract, and they would become tidally and magnetically locked into a rotation in which the same side of each always faces the other and the poles point directly at one another. In this case, the white dwarf still pulls material off of the M dwarf, but the material would build up on a single spot on the white dwarf that pointed right back at the M dwarf, irradiating it and driving off even more mass, consuming the M dwarf and leading to an eventual explosion. 


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Journal information: Astrophysical Journal

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Oct 26, 2012
"His thought experiment supposes that the white dwarf is magnetic as well. "That's the thrust of the paper, to think about what happens if both stars are magnetic," he said."

Thought experiment? Please, someone point me in the direction of even ONE star that doesn't have a magnetic field. If their models don't include the electromagnetic factors of stars their models will never work. There is very likely a reason the spectral analysis of supernova are so similar to that of lightning.


Oct 26, 2012
Distinctions Between Intellectuals And Pseudo-Intellectuals

From suppressedscience.net, by Sydney Harris,

#2- The intellectual is evidently motivated by a disinterested love of truth; the pseudo is interested in being right, or being thought to be right, whether he is or not.

#6- The intellectual seeks light from whatever source, realizing that ideas are no respecters of persons and turn up in the most unexpected places from the most improbable people; the pseudo accepts ideas, when he does, only from experts and specialists and certified authorities.

#8- The intellectual recognizes that opposites are not always contradictory, and may indeed reinforce each other; the pseudo paints a picture in black and white, right or wrong, leaving no room for a contrary viewpoint.

#10- The intellectual is courageous in opposing majority opinion, even when it jeopardizes his position; the pseudo slavishly follows "the most reliable authorities" in his field sneering at heresies.


Oct 26, 2012
BTW, Wal Thornhill is a physicist, Don Scott is a retired professor of electrical engineering (UofMass-Amherst, 30yrs). There is also a long list of scientists that took part in their conference last Janurary, 'The Human Story' and are going to take part in their conference in 2013, 'The Tipping Point'. So, as with many of your other comments, this one is spurious at best.

Oct 26, 2012
I can see there is another comment from an EU freak, but my filter set at 1.1 protects me again.

Let me help you with that. ;)
There is very likely a reason the spectral analysis of supernova are so similar to that of lightning.

I guess it's similar in the sense it has a nice, pretty, colourful rainbow.

Oct 26, 2012
Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit atrocities.Scientist needed to figure this one out,ZERO.

Oct 27, 2012
Maybe the Sun is a remnant of supernova and it's former M dwarf companion still exists as so-called Planet-X, while revolving it around highly eccentric path. At any case, the above study is just another step toward this hypothesis.

Oct 27, 2012
There are experiments in the works, in addition to the terella experiments that have taken place over the last 100 years.
http://www.thunde...ric-sun/
No vacuum chambers in these experiments though, low pressure plasma discharge conditions are those employed.

There is a process that takes place in scientific discovery;
1. Observation 2. Hypothesis 3. Prediction 4. Testing
The testing phase is beginning.

And who is lying?
We have over a 100 years of testing with terella experiments, in addition to that, their interdisciplinary approach uses well understood physics and findings from a wide range of scientists and disciplines. Your claim that because they reference someone's research that that somehow implies support is an outright lie, they reference research, just as every scientist is expected.

Oct 27, 2012
And to point out a few more of your lies, I pulled these from one of their websites;

"Q. You seem to insinuate that there is a conspiracy against Plasma Cosmology!
A. Not really. As has been stated, academic circles are currently dominated by Big Bang proponents, and they tend to promote their own theories, but science will move on."

" Q.You seem to suggest that the mainstream ignores plasma physics?
A. Far from it. The point is that the mainstream thus far assigns little importance to the role of plasma and electromagnetism on cosmic scales. It is one thing to contemplate that space isn't the vacuum once predicted, but quite another to acknowledge that Plasma and its EM interactions may play a role in cosmical structures, from planets and stars to galaxies and super-clusters. The passive role of plasma assumed by the mainstream is wrong!"

"...no knowledge is complete or perfect." Carl Sagan

In no sense do EUT proponents claim to "know it all", a trait you don't share!

Oct 27, 2012
Hi A2G. Mate, you're starting to sound as 'repetitive' and 'zealous' as those whom you attack. :) Please bear in mind that electric/magnetic phenomena occurs on scales ranging from inside stars to intertellar/galactic space distances. There are 'relict fields' already observed even in the most 'tenuous' regions of 'empty space'. In fact, my own conjecture is that the DARK MATTER observations will eventually be shown to be the cumulative 'energy-matter' gravity-effect of all the free/relict electro-magnetic radiations/fields (photons and magnetic/electric field 'sub-component particles') which have aggregated all over the place over the eons which have not been 'locked into' any of the usual 'normal features' which we have observed to date. Even in low strengths, such fields accumulating/acting over eons will inevitably produce some effects which may influence all the other lesser quantities/processes of 'normal content' we observed so far.

Very busy. Can't stay. Be cool. Cheers all.

Oct 27, 2012
A moving magnetic field indicates electric currents, they are one in the same, in such a scenario, there is not one without the other. That's why it's called electromagnetism, Maxwell determined this almost 200 years ago.

Oct 28, 2012
So then I ask you, what is the potential that causes the magnetic field to move?

Oct 28, 2012
I know, it's dark energy pushing the magnetic field. I was under the impression "real" scientists readily share their info and knowledge. You sound like a snake oil salesman. All talk, no action. Lot's of claims about how EU is wrong and contrived by liars and frauds, but when asked a simple question the response is "later". Who, I ask, is the charlatan? Until you are willing to answer the simple question STFU!

Oct 29, 2012
Alfven was clear that MHD applied only to dense plasmas such as the Sun, it does not apply to most space plasma. His protege Anthony Peratt indicated that electric currents are a natural occurrence in non-homogeneous space plasma. Those force-free currents will display dark, glow, or arc discharge mode. The currents are there, NASA acknowledges radio telescopes see them everywhere, regardless of your opinion, and have been viewed from planetary to megaparsec scales. EU theorists make no attempt to presume where these currents originate, the fact of the matter is that they are there.

You gave me an analogy that has zero relevance in a plasma discussion, especially considering gravity has such a negligible effect on plasma.

The fusion model is still very much a theory and science is not an exercise in the democratic process.

Oct 29, 2012
Hi again, A2G. Another reminder. Your water flow in hose loop example is not appropriate. The Superconducting Ring and Superfluidic Loop flow examples would be more appropriate.

Everyone, please also bear in mind that when all is said and done, every new discovery makes it increasingly apparent that the universes' underlying energy-space 'primary quantum vacuum' behaves as THE ultimate form of an infinitesimal-quanta field of superconducting/superfluidic "plasma" that is neutral at base 'ground state', but separable by symmetry-breaking into flows of 'energy-space charges' at the most fundamental level/scale from which we get all the higher-order neutral/charged "plasma" etc phenomena.

Again, can't stay. Very busy. Cheers and good luck and good thinking all!

Oct 29, 2012
Once again you admit that you are a complete liar and fraud. You claimed to be well versed in the EUT but you clearly do NOT understand one of the basic premises of the EUT, that stars and galaxies are EXTERNALLY powered with these very birkeland currents you deny exist. NASA may call them "magnetic flux tubes", or "neutral H molecular clouds", or "galactic jets" , or in the rare case they get it right, such as correctly describing them Jupiter/Io connection, there are the radio signatures of these currents laced in a web throughout the universe. As I said, EUT proponents do not presuppose an origin for these currents, but the fact remains that they are there. I'll repeat it again, according to Anthony Peratt, birkeland currents are EXPECTED in non-homogeneous space plasma. You should know with all your "research" that when you have two adjacent plasma clouds with different potential a current will be the result.

Oct 29, 2012
.... when you have two adjacent plasma clouds with different potential a current will be the result.


To try to reduce the pseudo-science content, let me give you a hint. Perhaps the question A2G was asking wasn't simplified enough for you: what power source generates and maintains that potential difference.

Oct 29, 2012
Fleet,
EUT does not make any presumptions as to what started it all, the fact remains we regularly observe such scenarios of areas of plasma with different potential.

Oct 30, 2012
Fleet,
EUT does not make any presumptions as to what started it all, ..


Trying the same strawman again? The question wasn't what "started" it but what power source maintains it. Stars radiate energy as photons, what replenishes that lost power? Without such a source, you have the classic "perpetual motion machine".

.. the fact remains we regularly observe such scenarios of areas of plasma with different potential.


What measurement technique can directly tell you the potential of a nebulae? The FACT is that we have never "observed" the electrical potential of any astronomical object. Don't make the mistake of being fooled by your own propaganda or confusing inference for observation.

Oct 31, 2012
I'm going to borrow this from Hannes, the poster, not the dead guy.
"and yet anybody can look up plasma's VI curve, and if the curve is carefully drawn, see that V never hits zero. Hence, V/I never hits zero, hence there is some tiny R."

Read more at: http://phys.org/n...html#jCp

As far as the potential of a nebula, the illustration at the top of this article show the areas of different potential, the temperature of the plasma indicates this;
http://phys.org/n...lar.html

And this describes those currents;
http://plasmauniv...ratt.pdf

Oct 31, 2012
The question wasn't what "started" it but what power source maintains it. Stars radiate energy as photons, what replenishes that lost power? Without such a source, you have the classic "perpetual motion machine".


What is the plasma cosmology explanation?

I'm going to borrow this from Hannes, the poster, not the dead guy.
"and yet anybody can look up plasma's VI curve, and if the curve is carefully drawn, see that V never hits zero. Hence, V/I never hits zero, hence there is some tiny R."


Ohms Law: R=V/I

If I=0 but "V never hits zero" then R goes to infinity. That's an original meaning for "tiny".

the fact remains we regularly observe such scenarios of areas of plasma with different potential.
What measurement technique can directly tell you the potential of a nebulae?
.. the illustration at the top of this article show the areas of different potential


OK, potential is measured in volts so show me how you calculate the voltage on different areas.

Nov 01, 2012
Fleetfoot, You are confusing the children with math problems. :)


I know, but anyone posting under the name of Hannes Alfven really should learn Ohm's Law first. I don't think he even knows he was claiming that plasma is an insulator ;-)

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