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Submission + - Astrophysicists Explain Dimmest Supernovae Using Supercomputer Models (phys.org)

RobertFisher writes: "If thermonuclear supernovae are standard candles for cosmology, as the Nobel committee emphasized in 2011, all originating from the explosion of white dwarf stars, then why are some orders of magnitude dimmer than others? Recently, a group of astrophysicists (including myself) completed a large set of supercomputer models of these supernovae to uncover some peculiar cases which fail to detonate. These supernovae duds have remarkable properties, including the fact that the white dwarf gets kicked by the explosion but survives, and will go careening through the galaxy. This kind of exploratory science is only possible with the advent of petascale computing."
Supercomputing

Modeling Supernovae With a Supercomputer 64

A team of scientists at the University of Chicago will be using 22 million processor-hours to simulate the physics of exploding stars. The team will make use of the Blue Gene/P supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory to analyze four different scenarios for type Ia supernovae. Included in the link is a video simulation of a thermonuclear flame busting its way out of a white dwarf. The processing time was made possible by the Department of Energy's INCITE program. "Burning in a white dwarf can occur as a deflagration or as a detonation. 'Imagine a pool of gasoline and throw a match on it. That kind of burning across the pool of gasoline is a deflagration,' Jordan said. 'A detonation is simply if you were to light a stick of dynamite and allow it to explode.' In the Flash Center scenario, deflagration starts off-center of the star's core. The burning creates a hot bubble of less dense ash that pops out the side due to buoyancy, like a piece of Styrofoam submerged in water."

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