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Computational Scientists Demonstrate How Supernovae Detonate

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supernova explosion

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A Florida State University research team used theory and computations to show how one class of supernovae stellar explosions go from a slow burn to a brilliant detonation.  

They describe their work in "Type Ia Supernovae Deflagration-to-Detonation Transition Explosions Powered by the Zel'dovich Reactivity Gradient Mechanism," published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.  

In the study, FSU Professor of Scientific Computing Tomasz Plewa and colleagues Ezra Brooker of FSU and Daniel Fenn of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used intricate computer calculations to demonstrate the conditions needed for Type Ia supernova to explode, thus yielding a light so bright that scientists can use it to conduct measurements of the Universe.  

Through sophisticated computational analysis, the team showed that flames could occur naturally on a star and grow over time as a result of the self-heated, sustained turbulence. The turbulence creates an environment in the star where the flame can be efficiently accelerated, and a transition to detonation becomes inevitable.  

"The time here is measured in milliseconds," Plewa says. "It all happens very, very quickly."

Plewa hopes the team can follow up on this work by developing computational models that capture the whole star and allow them to better understand stellar turbulence. 

From Florida State University
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