Astronomers glimpse supernova shockwave

March 22, 2016, Australian National University

Astronomers have captured the earliest minutes of two exploding stars and for the first time seen a shockwave generated by a star's collapsing core.

The international team found a shockwave only in the smaller supernova, a finding that will help them understand these complex explosions that create many of the elements that make up humans, the Earth and the Solar System.

"It's like the shockwave from a , only much bigger, and no one gets hurt," said Dr Brad Tucker, from ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Stars explode when their fuel runs down and the core collapses. The resulting is brighter than the rest of its galaxy and shines for some weeks.

Supernovae are so bright that they can be seen in distant galaxies, which has helped astronomers learn much about the large-scale structure of the universe. However, very little is known about the early stages of these explosions.

The research, published in the Astrophysical Journal, reports the explosions of two old-age , red supergiants.

As the core of a supernova collapses to form a neutron star, energy bounces back from the core in the form of a shockwave that travels at 30,000 to 40,000 kilometres per second, and causes the nuclear fusion that creates such as gold, silver and uranium.

The team from ANU and US institutions the University of Notre Dame, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the University of California Berkeley, and University of Maryland, saw a shockwave only in the smaller star with a radius 270 times that of the Sun, shown as a peak in the light emitted from the explosion in the first few days.

In the second star, a large supergiant with radius 460 times that of the Sun, a shockwave could not be detected, although it must have existed, said Dr Tucker.

"The star was so large that the did not travel all the way to the surface," he said.

The observation will help astronomers fine-tune their understanding of how the size and composition of the star affects the early moments of their explosive death.

"We are really probing the process of blowing up," Dr Tucker said.

"Supernovae made the heavy elements we need to survive, such as iron, zinc and iodine, so we are really learning about how we are created."

Explore further: Caught for the first time: The early flash of an exploding star

More information: Shock Breakout and Early Light Curves of Type II-P Supernovae Observed with Kepler. arxiv.org/abs/1603.05657

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16 comments

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baudrunner
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 22, 2016
Maybe the missing shock wave is the so-called "gravity wave" detected by LIGO. If powerful enough, they will travel much faster than 40,000 mps.
Protoplasmix
4.6 / 5 (10) Mar 22, 2016
Maybe the missing shock wave is the so-called "gravity wave" detected by LIGO. If powerful enough, they will travel much faster than 40,000 mps.
Uh, no. The signal detected by LIGO came from a couple of merging black holes. And "powerful enough" has nothing to do with how fast gravitational waves propagate – they move just as fast as light, but unlike light, they pass straight through all intervening matter.
mark896
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 23, 2016
Hi, first post. This may be stupid, but can we really image a star 1.2 Billion light years away as well as is shown in the video above? I had no idea. It seems if we can do that, we should be able to see exo-planets around it better than just measuring light fluctuations and wobble. I've never seen pictures of any star other than our own that was this detailed. Feel free to mock me, but enlighten me...
mark896
5 / 5 (1) Mar 23, 2016
Or, are these animations to go along with the graph of brightness over time? I can't think these are real photos, but I haven't read anywhere that have said animations or artists interpretations. Very misleading if they are just artwork.
bschott
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 23, 2016
Or, are these animations to go along with the graph of brightness over time?


Exactly. The simulated video is like a low budget interpretation of what the star would look like to the naked eye when viewed through several spectral filters at a distance inside the stars own system.

I can't think these are real photos, but I haven't read anywhere that have said animations or artists interpretations. Very misleading if they are just artwork.


Yup.
viko_mx
1 / 5 (4) Mar 23, 2016
"As the core of a supernova collapses to form a neutron star, energy bounces back from the core in the form of a shockwave that travels at 30,000 to 40,000 kilometres per second, and causes the nuclear fusion that creates heavy elements such as gold, silver and uranium."

How do they know that? With what scientific method is passible to be confirmed this hypothesis? The scientific knowedge is collection of only confirmed facts. The unconfirmed hypothesis are not science.

shavera
5 / 5 (7) Mar 23, 2016
They're just animations based on physical models. Not real imagery. Assume anything smaller than a solar system (like dust clouds around a star) are almost always cg models, and not real pictures.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (6) Mar 23, 2016
"As the core of a supernova collapses to form a neutron star, energy bounces back from the core in the form of a shockwave that travels at 30,000 to 40,000 kilometres per second, and causes the nuclear fusion that creates heavy elements such as gold, silver and uranium."

How do they know that? With what scientific method is passible to be confirmed this hypothesis? The scientific knowedge is collection of only confirmed facts. The unconfirmed hypothesis are not science.

Isn't it funny that the generation of heavy elements by fusion - are confirmed facts...
C'mon, Viko - do better...
bschott
3 / 5 (4) Mar 23, 2016
C'mon, Viko - do better...


He didn't do too bad, he knew where the discord lies.....

"As the core of a supernova collapses to form a neutron star, energy bounces back from the core in the form of a shockwave that travels at 30,000 to 40,000 kilometres per second,


A "shockwave" composed of what, energy in the form of SA particles or photons? These are the only 2 choices in space right? Since they claim particle fusion is being caused by this "shockwave" they are saying that atoms are being fused by interaction with a wavefront. A "wall" of energy so to speak.

and causes the nuclear fusion that creates heavy elements such as gold, silver and uranium."


He asked "how do they know that?", Is there any paper verifying interaction with some kind of wavefront initiating fusion.

Definitely need to precisely describe the composition of the shockwave, and how interaction with it initiates fusion.

Anyone?

Phys1
3.9 / 5 (7) Mar 23, 2016
@bs, viko
Why not read the actual paper. That would be a neat way to find out. For example this one.
http://arxiv.org/...03.05657
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (6) Mar 23, 2016
A "shockwave" composed of what, energy in the form of SA particles or photons?

Nope. Energetic atomic (atoms protons, neutrons, even molecular) particles. They have not reached the point of decomposition to SA particles, yet.
These are the only 2 choices in space right?

LOL. Not even close...
Since they claim particle fusion is being caused by this "shockwave" they are saying that atoms are being fused by interaction with a wavefront. A "wall" of energy so to speak.

Any idea how a thermonuclear device works?
He asked "how do they know that?", Is there any paper verifying interaction with some kind of wavefront initiating fusion.

How bout the literature documenting the development of said thermo-nuclear devices?
Definitely need to precisely describe the composition of the shockwave, and how interaction with it initiates fusion.
Anyone?

Heat n pressure, m'friend.
Don't overthink it...
bschott
3 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2016
Nope. Energetic atomic (atoms protons, neutrons, even molecular) particles. They have not reached the point of decomposition to SA particles, yet.


Please tell me why you think material being heated to the temperatures they claim to measure that is being blasted off the surface of a neutron star @40,000KPS isn't ionized. Even I know that math dude.

LOL. Not even close...


LOL.....what else comprises a "shockwave" in space?

Any idea how a thermonuclear device works?


Confinement is the key, where is the confinement for a particle in space interacting with a wavefront?

How bout the literature documenting the development of said thermo-nuclear devices?


Maybe a double read about the confinement for ya....

Heat n pressure, m'friend.
Don't overthink it...


Underthinking it results in comparing a nuclear device to matter floating in space interacting with a wavefront.

bschott
3 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2016
@bs, viko
Why not read the actual paper. That would be a neat way to find out. For example this one.
http://arxiv.org/...03.05657


They do not cover the shockwave composition, they assume it's existence based on the light curve. Thanks for re-linking something that is available at the bottom of the article...I had hoped it was the actual paper and not the abstract. Proving yourself as useful as usual.
jonesdave
5 / 5 (3) Mar 27, 2016
@bs, viko
Why not read the actual paper. That would be a neat way to find out. For example this one.
http://arxiv.org/...03.05657


They do not cover the shockwave composition, they assume it's existence based on the light curve. Thanks for re-linking something that is available at the bottom of the article...I had hoped it was the actual paper and not the abstract. Proving yourself as useful as usual.


Oh dear. The bit up near the top right corner, where it says "Download", and below that, "PDF", should be a clue. You can't tell me you've never downloaded a paper from arxiv before?
Phys1
5 / 5 (4) Mar 27, 2016
@bs, viko
Why not read the actual paper. That would be a neat way to find out. For example this one.
http://arxiv.org/...03.05657


They do not cover the shockwave composition, they assume it's existence based on the light curve. Thanks for re-linking something that is available at the bottom of the article...I had hoped it was the actual paper and not the abstract. Proving yourself as useful as usual.

Fool, the actual paper is also there.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2016
Uh, no. The signal detected by LIGO came from a couple of merging black holes.
Those weren't merging black holes. There is intra-galactic warfare going on, you see, and those "merging black holes" were actually two starships traveling at warp speed. One obliterated the other and then disappeared because it slowed to sub-light speed.

From our perspective, we interpret warp speed objects as incredibly dense, massive objects that we call "black holes", which is pseudo-scientific nonsense. Relativity, you know.

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