Heart of an exploded star observed in 3-D

Heart of an exploded star observed in 3-D
Remnant of Supernova 1987A as seen by ALMA. Purple area indicates emission from SiO molecules. Yellow area is emission from CO molecules. The blue ring is Hubble data that has been artificially expanded into 3-D. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); R. Indebetouw; NASA/ESA Hubble

Supernovas—the violent endings of the brief yet brilliant lives of massive stars—are among the most cataclysmic events in the cosmos. Though supernovas mark the death of stars, they also trigger the birth of new elements and the formation of new molecules.

In February of 1987, astronomers witnessed one of these events unfold inside the Large Magellanic Cloud, a tiny dwarf galaxy located approximately 160,000 light-years from Earth.

Over the next 30 years, observations of the remnant of that explosion revealed never-before-seen details about the death of stars and how atoms created in those stars—like carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen—spill out into space and combine to form new molecules and dust. These microscopic particles may eventually find their way into future generations of stars and planets.

Recently, astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to probe the heart of this supernova, named SN 1987A. ALMA's ability to see remarkably fine details allowed the researchers to produce an intricate 3-D rendering of newly formed molecules inside the supernova remnant. These results are published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The researchers also discovered a variety of previously undetected molecules in the remnant. These results appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

"When this supernova exploded, now more than 30 years ago, astronomers knew much less about the way these events reshape interstellar space and how the hot, glowing debris from an exploded star eventually cools and produces new molecules," said Rémy Indebetouw, an astronomer at the University of Virginia and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville. "Thanks to ALMA, we can finally see cold 'star dust' as it forms, revealing important insights into the original star itself and the way supernovas create the basic building blocks of planets."

Astronomers using ALMA data created a 3-D image of molecules forged in the remnant of a supernova, SN 1987A. The purple areas indicate the location of silicon monoxide (SiO) molecules. The yellow area is the location of carbon monoxide (CO) molecules. The blue ring is actual Hubble data (hydrogen, or H-alpha) that has been artificially expanded into 3-D. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), R. Indebetouw; NASA/ESA Hubble

Supernovas - Star Death to Dust Birth

Prior to ongoing investigations of SN 1987A, there was only so much astronomers could say about the impact of supernovas on their interstellar neighborhoods.

It was well understood that massive stars, those approximately 10 times the mass of our sun or more, ended their lives in spectacular fashion.

When these stars run out of fuel, there is no longer enough heat and energy to fight back against the force of gravity. The outer reaches of the star, once held up by the power of fusion, then come crashing down on the core with tremendous force. The rebound of this collapse triggers a powerful explosion that blasts material into space.

As the endpoint of massive stars, scientists have learned that supernovas have far-reaching effects on their home galaxies. "The reason some galaxies have the appearance that they do today is in large part because of the supernovas that have occurred in them," Indebetouw said. "Though less than ten percent of become supernovas, they nonetheless are key to the evolution of galaxies."

This scientific visualization illustrates the evolution of Supernova 1987A from the initial swelling of the host star and supernova explosion to the expanding shock wave and the formation of molecules detected by ALMA in the remnant. Credit: A. Angelich and B. Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF; R. Indebetouw et al., A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF); NASA/STScI/CfA/R. Kirshner; NASA/CXC/SAO/PSU/D. Burrows et al.; ESO; NASA/CXC/D.Berry/MIT/T.Delaney et al.; NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab; ESO/C. Malin/B. Tafreshi/José Francisco Salgado. Music: Geodesium

Throughout the observable universe, supernovas are quite common, but since they appear - on average - about once every 50 years in a galaxy the size of the Milky Way, astronomers have precious few opportunities to study one from its first detonation to the point where it cools enough to form new molecules. Though SN 1987A is not in our home galaxy, it is still close enough for ALMA and other telescopes to study in fine detail.

Capturing 3-D Image of SN1987A with ALMA

For decades, radio, optical, and even X-ray observatories have studied SN 1987A, but obscuring dust in the remnant made it difficult to analyze the supernova's innermost core. ALMA's ability to observe at millimeter wavelengths - a region of the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared and radio light - make it possible to see through the intervening dust. The researchers were then able to study the abundance and location of newly formed molecules - especially silicon monoxide (SiO) and (CO), which shine brightly at the short submillimeter wavelengths that ALMA can perceive.

The new ALMA image and animation show vast new stores of SiO and CO in discrete, tangled clumps within the core of SN 1987A. Scientists previously modeled how and where these molecules would appear. With ALMA, the researchers finally were able to capture images with high enough resolution to confirm the structure inside the remnant and test those models.

Aside from obtaining this 3-D image of SN 1987A, the ALMA data also reveal compelling details about how its physical conditions have changed and continue to change over time. These observations also provide insights into the physical instabilities inside a supernova.

New Insights from SN 1987A

Earlier observations with ALMA verified that SN 1987A produced a massive amount of dust. The new observations provide even more details on how the supernova made the dust as well as the type of molecules found in the remnant.

"One of our goals was to observe SN 1987A in a blind search for other molecules," said Indebetouw. "We expected to find carbon monoxide and , since we had previously detected these molecules." The astronomers, however, were excited to find the previously undetected molecules formyl cation (HCO+) and sulfur monoxide (SO).

"These molecules had never been detected in a young supernova remnant before," noted Indebetouw. "HCO+ is especially interesting because its formation requires particularly vigorous mixing during the explosion." Stars forge elements in discrete onion-like layers. As a star goes supernova, these once well-defined bands undergo violent mixing, helping to create the environment necessary for molecule and dust formation.

The astronomers estimate that about 1 in 1000 silicon atoms from the exploded star is now found in free-floating SiO molecules. The overwhelming majority of the silicon has already been incorporated into dust grains. Even the small amount of SiO that is present is 100 times greater than predicted by dust-formation models. These new observations will aid astronomers in refining their models.

These observations also find that ten percent or more of the carbon inside the remnant is currently in CO molecules. Only a few out of every million carbon atoms are in HCO+ molecules.

New Questions and Future Research

Even though the new ALMA observations shed important light on SN 1987A, there are still several questions that remain. Exactly how abundant are the molecules of HCO+ and SO? Are there other that have yet to be detected? How will the 3-D structure of SN 1987A continue to change over time?

Future ALMA observations at different wavelengths may also help determine what sort of compact object—a pulsar or neutron star—resides at the center of the remnant. The likely created one of these dense stellar objects, but as yet none has been detected.

Explore further

Cosmic 'dust factory' reveals clues to how stars are born

More information: F. J. Abellán et al. Very Deep inside the SN 1987A Core Ejecta: Molecular Structures Seen in 3D, The Astrophysical Journal (2017). DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa784c

M. Matsuura et al. ALMA spectral survey of Supernova 1987A – molecular inventory, chemistry, dynamics and explosive nucleosynthesis, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2017). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx830

Citation: Heart of an exploded star observed in 3-D (2017, July 10) retrieved 25 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-07-heart-star-d.html
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Jul 10, 2017
Love the image; however, explosions like this create plasma. The plasma must cool to create atoms, molecules. The atomic structure of a star is only a guess with a false premise.

Jul 10, 2017
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Jul 10, 2017

Well, we could look at the composition of the solar wind, for instance. Or look at exploded stars, and see what the composition of the gas is. Or we could detect neutrinos, which can only come from fusion of hydrogen into helium. Guess nobody has ever done that.

Jul 10, 2017


Plasma (depending on how soon after the "explosion" you are looking of course)

Really....may wanna look at some of the CERN decay products. Granted they are only "claims"...but then again, so is the mainstreams solar model....that still, to this date, can't even deal with coronal heating... yet still retains it's status as the solar model.

Plasma. Duh. What sort of frigging plasma? H+? He+ O+? Yes, all of those, and more besides. Where does the H, He, O etc come from, before it is stripped of its electrons? God do it? And CERN has got nothing to do with the fusion of H into He. If you know of any other model that can explain and account for the neutrino emission, then I'd love to hear it. Don't bother with the electric Sun nonsense; it is not science, and fails miserably. And if you've figured out the coronal heating mechanism, from a number of competing mainstream possibilities, I'd also like to hear it.

Jul 10, 2017
No...you wouldn't. It doesn't conform to your worldview, nor......blah,blah

Translation: I don't have a clue, and there is nothing in the scientific literature to back me up.

If you'd like to know about some of the processes that could heat the corona, try here:


So, which one is yours?

Jul 10, 2017
You said neutrinos can only come from hydrogen fusing into helium...a ridiculous statement, as they clearly have more than just this source.

So how does what happens at CERN translate to the neutrino abundances coming from the Sun? What is your theory for what is going on inside the Sun that relates to the CERN experiments? Who has written this up? If, as I suspect, nobody has, then why even mention it? There is no process, other than nuclear fusion, that can account for the SOLAR neutrino flux. As opposed to what happens inside a bloody particle accelerator.

Jul 10, 2017
Well, that you somehow think these atoms are created inside the sun...and THEN ionized by some "other process" is pretty funny....especially coming from someone as *ahem* adept at physics as you promote yourself to be.

Nearly forgot this nonsense. Try here:

See all those neutral lines? Funny that, eh? By the way, Fe I, for instance = neutral iron. Fe II would be Fe+, Fe III would be Fe2+. Et cetera.

Jul 10, 2017
It isn't supposed to, just shows more than your "single" source.

And why would I consider a process that doesn't happen on the Sun, when I am discussing the Sun?

Awesome, so...what is the PROCESS by which the sun fuses neutral atoms in it's 10 million degree core and THEN ionizes these neutral atoms at a cooler temperature so that they exit as charged particles? Or did you not think your "theory" needs to address this?

Sorry, but this needs a whole bunch of knowledge about the Sun, which you obviously lack, and I have neither the time nor space to educate you on. Try taking a relevant degree, or do some research. Preferably before making criticism of something that you patently don't understand.

I described what I think**, since the bulk of the papers on your link refer to EM phenomenon I'd say some of them are on the right track.

I'm sure these mainstream scientists will be delighted to have your approval.

(** No, you didn't.)

Jul 10, 2017
... surface of the sun is visibly accelerated through it, and why the "temperature" (IOW speed) of the electrons inside is so much "hotter"..."

The neutrino is the oscillation observed when a proton and an electron split, or a neutron becomes unstable. In fact, confinement is required for the life of a neutron. At very near distance, we are not sure what is going on. Note more than one charge may occupy the same point in time. We have not done the calculation for very densely packed charge, especially with motion. So the vast number of neutrinos indicate fission. However, we use a false premise for the sun's innards.

Jul 10, 2017
"Particles may eventually find their way into future generations of stars and planets." From article
The Sun: H2 74.9%; He 23.8%; O2 1%; Carbon (0.3%), neon (0.2%) and iron (0.2%) being the most abundant.
Earth: Fe (32.1%), O2 (30.1%), Si (15.1%), Mg (13.9%), S (2.9%), Ni (1.8%), Ca (1.5% , With the remaining 1.2% consisting of trace amounts of other elements. etc.

Interesting theory, just "Why are there differences in the structure of the objects in our system?" https://www.acade...r_system

Jul 11, 2017
Love the image; however, explosions like this create plasma. The plasma must cool to create atoms, molecules. The atomic structure of a star is only a guess with a false premise.

You have to be kidding me. The temperature required to fully ionize most elements is quite high. Any plasma only takes at most a few hours to cool from expansion until most of the free nucleus has grabbed onto at least one electron (creating atoms). The only exceptions are hydrogen and helium, which take considerably longer due to the lower ionization energy required and the relative ratification of the gases.

But even with fully ionized gases, elemental nuclei are still quite intact within a few minutes of the explosion, after the neutron density falls to a level in which slow and fast neutron capture isn't building new elements. Once formed, elements are quite identifiable by the radiation they emit, even when fully ionized.

Jul 11, 2017
The plasma must cool to create atoms
LOL, apparently it's bypassed the notice of the EUdiots that plasma is made up of atoms with electrons stripped off them. Atoms like silicon, iron, carbon, hydrogen, and so forth. And atoms have spectra, and it's different for an ion than for the atom it was made from.

Atoms aren't "created from plasma." That's perhaps the most idiotic thing I've heard said here this year, and these guys say some real doozies.

Unbelievable. Dudebro says "The Sun is made of plasma" like that's a definitive answer. It's kind of like saying "the Earth is made of dirt." This isn't even indicative of someone who's bright enough to say "duhhh ummm" about.

Jul 11, 2017
OK, the universe is still only a state of an infinite set of just two entities, one a + and the other a - that exist from it's center to infinity, never created or destroyed. Everything else is nonsense. The state of fused atoms or stable and combined charge has never been studied. The error with Dr. E is obvious. If you don't get it, please, repetition is not new science. The standard Model is just that, a Model with a false premise. Adding nonsense to science corrupts science; it does not further science. Idiot luck does not define a reason for anything!

Most galactic explosions are caused by combining matter with matter with opposite orbiters, we call this an antimatter explosion. The concentration of charge in a field, and the stability of states, either in motion or stationary states has never been defined. Nor do we really know what we are looking upon using a constant speed of light.

So most of this is simply moot and ignorant. I say this for enlightenment.

Jul 11, 2017
Axiom: Charge, is never created or destroyed.
Lema: Only the center of the charge's field is moved by the field.
Lema: There exist nothing else.
Tautology: Charge is the Charge's field!

Maxwell, QED

Jul 11, 2017
"In the beginning was the Plasma." Hannes Alfven

Jul 11, 2017
The final arbiter of what element a particular atom is, whether it is an ion or not, is the number of protons in the nucleus. Different numbers of neutrons make isotopes, which are still atoms; different numbers of electrons make ions, which are also still atoms.

Lack of understanding of this shows basic lack of understanding of both chemistry and atomic physics. Without understanding of chemistry and atomic physics, anyone talking about "plasma" is talking through their hat.

Until this point is clearly understood, acknowledged, and no longer contended, the EUdiots will continue demonstrating that they are EUdiots.

Jul 11, 2017
Guys this is basic atomic physics. It's been well established since Chadwick discovered the neutron and won a Nobel Prize for it. That was in like 1935. You should maybe catch up on physics and stuff. It's pretty embarrassing to be caught posing because you don't know physics that's over 80 years old.

Not to mention,
An ion (/ˈaɪən, -ɒn/)[1] is an atom, or a molecule, in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving the atom or molecule a net positive or negative electrical charge.

Let me repeat that for the hard of reading: "An ion is an atom or a molecule" period. Any questions?

Dumb da dumb dumb. Dumb da dumb dumb duuhhhhh

Jul 11, 2017
And BTW Faraday discovered ions in 1834, so that would make the EUdiots 184 years behind the times. I mean, seriously, a hundred and eighty years? How dumb do you have to be to have missed physics that was discovered when Maxwell was twenty years from writing his equations? That was in the time of your great-great-great-grandparents? That was prior to the invention of the steel battleship, the refrigerator, and the generator? Never mind the light bulb.

The EUdiots are stuck in 18th century science. The entire structure of modern physics invented since the dawn of the 19th century has passed them by; they've never heard of it.

Jul 12, 2017
You cannot verify any process you claim is occurring,....et uneducated cetera

Yes, you can. The p-p fusion process should produce neutrinos at certain energy levels. Those neutrinos have been detected.

If there really was a problem with how the Sun is powered, do you not think somebody, amongst all the brilliant scientists in the world, might have pointed it out by now? Why is just an anonymous, ignorant troll on a sci-news website that thinks there is a problem?

Jul 12, 2017
The onus now is on YOU to DISPROVE it, using the scientific method.

Or, alternatively, to come up with an alternative theory that matches all the observations and data. So far, nobody has done this.

Jul 12, 2017

Dear God, your explanation regarding P-P fusion requires a collision in a dense medium where 2 like charges combine to form a neutral particle by "expelling" the positive charge upon combining (at the mass of an electron to boot), and the particles of like charge must be accelerated directly at each other.

Your fallacy is: argument from personal incredulity.

That's basically what happens, yes. Your failure to understand something is not evidence against it.

And earlier, "2 atmospheres" is pressure, not density. That's a pretty basic error, and doesn't instill any confidence in other things you have to say.

Jul 12, 2017
The real irony here is that the above plasma formation has been recreated in the lab using known plasma physics, it is an electromagnetic phenomenon that has very little imput from gravitational processes.

Jul 12, 2017
... protons don't ...

Nonsense, there are no particles, light or heavy. What you observe is the wrinkle in the field caused by the centers of one or more charges, or to be precise the field. That is, there is no object that creates these spherical fields, apparently never created or destroyed. Start here, now think. Forget where you.

By the way all we see is the field, else you interact with the centers of the field. Don't try to fit reality to your mind. Fit your mind to reality!

Jul 12, 2017
We live in a "Field" Sea! The coulomb forces from every charge exist at every point. Gravity is a group response, charges always comply, i.e. like charge repel and unlike charges attract, therefore a set of charge pairs will be attracted to other bundles, Gravity!

Jul 12, 2017
Explosions of a large set is caused by the nature of the set. Typically we observe a set with a single orbiter type, in large conglomerations, charges still comply. When orbiters shift within the group, typically near the surface, I conjecture speeds of ions or single charge may be higher; thus taking up orbit about a slower opposite charge. Any magnetic field production will separate charge types. In other words, simple physics is able to describe this phenomenon. The center of a large sun is unobserved, we do not know, remember, charge may exist in very tightly constrained volumes, there is no minimum volume.

Jul 12, 2017

The only way to understand how physics actually works is to be ignorant of everything YOU know.

QM's success is because it assumes nothing but potential and kinetic energy. The expressions are genius! QM looks at every possible wavelet. I used to be anal and rejected QM based on causality; actually , not a theory but a tool. Results with stupid interpretations; but, results!

Jul 12, 2017
QM, the most consistently and fantastically successful scientific theory in the history of mankind, DISSED by a dipstick

Yep. Best thing I've read on here in a while. Can I phrase it another way? Shit that idiots like bschitt cant understand, and are going way beyond his Primary School level of knowledge of science. Eh? Bless him.
Stick to rewiring houses, mate. Eh? You understand eff all about astrophysics do you? Be honest. You haven't a clue. Have you? You probably think the proton-proton chain is a f*cking rock group, yes? Give up; you're clueless.

Jul 13, 2017
My goal here is to point out the ever increasing massive failures of what you incorrectly term as "science".

In which case you've failed. As FSC pointed out, you do not understand the science, and are therefore not in a position to point anything out to anyone. And if somebody did actually find a flaw in solar theory, then they wouldn't be prattling on about it on here, where it has zero impact. They'd be writing it up in the scientific literature.

Jul 13, 2017
Stop talking crap, and show us, in the scientific literate, where this "flaw" has been pointed out? It is a figment of your uneducated mind. If it was there, it would be obvious, and somebody would have gone into print about. So where is it? Otherwise shut up.

Jul 13, 2017
Who, in their right mind, thinks that posting on here, with their half-baked, ignorant nonsense, is going to have the slightest impact on established physics? Seriously. At the very least, take it to a physics forum. There is one attached to this site. Or post a question at Cosmoquest, where there are no limits on word count. The very fact that these morons post their rubbish on here,tells you all you need to know about the validity of their arguments.

Jul 13, 2017
More crap^^^^^. It isn't up to us to explain anything you prat. You are taking on established physics, bird brain. You do not do that on the comments section of a site like this! Get it? Publish your crap, or STFU.

Jul 13, 2017
LMAO...you're here idiot, making dumbass remark after dumbass remark without thinking or apparently realizing what you are saying...

Jesus, what an idiot! I am not the one claiming that I can find flaws in established physics. That's you, you prawn. Does established physics give a toss what is written by idiots like you on a site like this? Think about it. How does one overturn established physics? Think about that one, too. It does not involve crank science sites, nor the comments section of places like this. Loon.

Jul 13, 2017
can we keep it to:

Two models are said to be isomorphic if a one-to-one correspondence can be found between their elements, in a manner that preserves their relationship. An axiomatic system for which every model is isomorphic to another is called categorial (sometimes categorical), and the property of categoriality (categoricity) ensures the completeness of a system.

Jul 13, 2017
Unfortunately we (those of us who actually understand physics) have had to repeatedly ask ourselves this question

Hahahahahahahahabahahaha. Jesus wept. Write it up, or STFU.

Jul 13, 2017
Hmmmm, over here, people who check their ideas with experiments, talk about them, and let others look them over before they even publish them, much less start claiming they're true. This methodology leads to computers, jet aircraft, refrigerators, television, etc.

Over there, people who claim this is all wrong, can't describe why, never check their ideas, and deny everything while slandering the ones who check. This methodology leads to capering on unmoderated science web sites.

You choose.

Jul 13, 2017
Unfortunately we (those of us who actually understand physics) have had to repeatedly ask ourselves this question, we looked to history for the answers
by all means, show your peer reviewed published paper and it's requisite evidence that "refute the established physics" then

you claim it has never historically taken this long, so that means you have some evidence that presents some scientific finding that is published and can be reviewed for accuracy and replication

if it is as earth shattering as you make it out to be, then you may be able to get it replicated ( http://www.scienc...=1434352 )

or is this like your non-verifiable anecdotal beliefs surrounding your magic cube claims that can't even get the easiest FDA approval for clinical trials?

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