Research

Supernova Simulation

New research shows that supermassive first-generation stars may explode in supernovae without leaving behind remnants like black holes. The work is a result of modeling the life and death of stars 55,000 to 56,000 times more massive than our sun. When such stars reach the end of their lives, they become unstable due to relativistic effects and begin to collapse inward. The collapse reinvigorates fusion inside the star and it begins to rapidly fuse heavier elements like oxygen, magnesium, or even iron from the helium in its core. Eventually, the energy released overcomes the binding energy of the star and it explodes outward as a supernova. The image above is a slice through such a star approximately one day after its collapse is reversed. Hydrodynamic instabilities like the Rayleigh-Taylor instability produce mixing of the heavy elements throughout the expanding interior of the star. The mixing should produce a signature that can be observed in the aftermath as these stars seed their galaxies with the heavy elements needed to form planets. For more, see Science Daily and Chen et al. (Image credit: K. Chen et al., via Science Daily; submitted by mechanicoolest)

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