The new type of stellar explosion

It’s something you don’t see every day. In fact, it has never been seen before. A team of astronomers observed it. It is the new type of stellar explosion called a micronova. These outbursts occur on the surface of certain stars. They can burn up about 3.5 billion large Giza pyramids of stellar material. And they do it in just a few hours.

The new type of stellar explosion is called a micronova.
The new type of stellar explosion is called micronova.

White dwarfs

where do the recently discovered phenomena take place? On the surface of white dwarf stars. Not just any, only those with a certain peculiarity. They must be actively taking material from a close binary companion, explains Science Alert. This accumulation of material gives rise to the thermonuclear explosion, the micronova.

“The phenomenon challenges our understanding of how thermonuclear explosions occur in stars. We thought we knew that. But this discovery proposes a whole new way,” explains Simone Scaringi. She is an astronomer at Durham University in the United Kingdom who led the study.

The discovery was with the help of a major telescope. It is the Very Large Telescope. It belongs to the European Southern Observatory of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

It happens in white dwarfs.
It happens in white dwarfs.

New challenge

Micronovae are extremely powerful events, but they are small on an astronomical scale. The ESOsays that they are much less energetic than the stellar explosions known as novae. Both types of explosions occur in white dwarfs. They are dead stars with a mass around that of our Sun. However, the size is about that of the Earth.
“Such detonations cause the entire surface of the white dwarf to burn and glow brightly. It does so for several weeks,” explains Nathalie Degenaar, astronomer and co-author of the study.

The new type of stellar explosion challenges astronomers’ understanding of stellar explosions. They may be more abundant than previously thought. “It just goes to show how dynamic the universe is. These events can be quite common. But because they are so fast they are hard to catch in action,” Scaringi explains.

The study is published in Nature. They explain that more observations of similar outbursts are needed. In addition, detailed theoretical modeling is needed to determine what actually triggers these events.

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