Modelling radiation in stellar explosions
EU-funded researchers are developing modelling tools based on radiation flow and transfer that are yielding new insight into the nature of supernova explosions.
When certain stars reach the end of their lifetime, they become supernovae (SNe, the plural of supernova, SN) and explode in a very high-energy nuclear event.
In order to understand these violent explosions better, scientists study SNe radiation as a critical dynamic element of the event, using radiation hydrodynamics and radiative transfer algorithms to model such aspects as the shape of SNe light curves and the nature of their spectra.
Spectra provide invaluable information to astronomers including the elements present in a star, their temperatures and densities, the magnetic field of a star, whether or not there is a companion star and much more.
European researchers initiated the Stellar Explosions project to develop eloquent algorithms for insight into pre-SN massive star evolution and mass loss, stellar explosion mechanisms, SN progenitors and the use of SNe for distance determinations in the Universe.
Within the first two years of the project, scientists successfully developed all algorithms. Subsequent applications of the codes have already led to numerous insights.
Scientists unambiguously resolved discrepancies concerning the mass of certain SN progenitors based on identification of ejection speed of core-processed material as a key indicator of progenitor mass.
Using their time-dependent radiative transfer code, they were able to reproduce spectral data observed from one of the most widely-studied SNe.
Furthermore, they proposed that standard SNe of specific subtypes stem primarily from binary systems rather than from single stars as generally believed by the scientific community.
Finally, investigators obtained completely new results regarding the polarised radiation properties of a specific SN ejecta, or ejected material expanding from the explosion explaining for the first time the origin of a jump in continuum polarisation.
Continuing efforts should shed light, so to speak, on light curve, spectra and polarisation signatures for a wide variety of explosions and enable comparison to experimental observations.
Information Source: Result from the EU funded FP7-PEOPLE programme
SAINT-CRICQ, Béatrice (Ms)
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE (CNRS)
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