White dwarfs detonate into supernovae

New research published this week could help explain the vast distance of the universe. Type la supernova occur in binary systems where two stars orbiting each other (one being a white dwarf) reach the end of their lives with one massive detonation. A study conducted by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History has shed light onto this cosmic phenomenon.


White dwarves detonate supernovae
A type la supernova within the NGC 2441 galaxy as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope


When two white dwarf stars are orbiting each other, the immense gravitational pull from both causes gravitational radiation. This saps energy from their orbit meaning they slowly but surely move closer together. This process is called inspiralling and continues until they collide. The new research has found that some of these binary stars explode even before they crash into each other due to the fact that energy is being drained at a huge rate. All these points were illustrated using a new mathematical model. Type la supernova are believed to demonstrate how the universe is ever expanding and at an accelerating rate.


White dwarves detonate supernovae
An artist’s impression of a supernova


Reference: https://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/2908-detonating-white-dwarfs-as-supernovae


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