HubbleSite: Supernova Linked to Potential 'Zombie Star'

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bystander
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HubbleSite: Supernova Linked to Potential 'Zombie Star'

Post by bystander » Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:23 pm

Supernova Star System Linked to Potential 'Zombie Star'
NASA | STScI | HubbleSite | 2014 Aug 06
SN2012Z_NGC1309_HST.jpg
Credit: NASA, ESA, C. McCully and S. Jha (Rutgers), R. Foley (Illinois), and Z. Levay (STScI)
Acknowledgment: Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and A. Riess (JHU/STScI)

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope for the first time have spotted a star system that later produced an unusual supernova explosion of a white dwarf, the stripped-down core of an ordinary star at the end of its life.

Examining archived Hubble images taken before the supernova, astronomers say they have detected the blue companion star of the white dwarf. The white dwarf slowly siphoned fuel from its companion, eventually igniting a runaway nuclear reaction in the dead star, and producing a weak supernova blast.

This particular supernova is classified as a Type Iax, a recently identified class of stellar explosion. These exploding stars are less energetic and fainter than Type Ia supernovae, which also originate from exploding white dwarfs in binary systems. Astronomers originally thought these weaker stellar blasts were unique Type Ia supernovae. So far, they have identified more than 30 of these mini-explosions, which occur at one-fifth the rate of Type Ia supernovae.

"Astronomers have been searching for decades for the progenitors of Type Ia's," said Saurabh Jha ... "Type Ia's are important because they're used to measure vast cosmic distances and the expansion of the universe. But we have very few constraints on how any white dwarf explodes. The similarities between Type Iax's and normal Type Ia's make understanding Type Iax progenitors important, especially because no Type Ia progenitor has been conclusively identified. This discovery shows us one way that you can get a white dwarf explosion." ...

A luminous, blue progenitor system for the type Iax supernova 2012Z - Curtis McCully et al Possible Detection of the Stellar Donor or Remnant for the Type Iax Supernova 2008ha - Ryan J. Foley et al
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Ann
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Re: HubbleSite: Supernova Linked to Potential 'Zombie Star'

Post by Ann » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:13 pm

Absolutely fascinating. So a star might go supernova, but not completely, and destroy itself, but not completely.

I so wonder what the remnant "zombie star" would be like!

Ann
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