How to blow up a star


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Link here. The story details the new supercomputer simulation work attempting to model the internal processes inside a dying star that cause it to explode as a supernova.

For more than half a century, physicists have suspected that the heat produced by elusive particles called neutrinos, created in the core of a star, could generate a blast that radiates more energy in a single second than the Sun will in its lifetime. But they have had trouble proving that hypothesis. The detonation process is so complex — incorporating general relativity, fluid dynamics, nuclear and other physics — that computers have struggled to mimic the mechanism in silico. And that poses a problem. “If you can’t reproduce it,” Janka says, “that means you don’t understand it.”

Now, improvements in raw computing power, along with efforts to capture the stellar physics in acute detail, have enabled substantial progress. Janka’s simulation marked the first time that physicists had been able to get a realistic 3D model of the most common type of supernova to explode. Just months later, a competing group based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee repeated the feat with a heavier, more complex star. The field is now buzzing, with more than half a dozen teams currently working on exploding stars in 3D.

They have apparently solved one problem, figuring out how the neutrino blast wave gets enough energy to blast free from the star’s core. A close read of the article indicates that, while progress has been made, they still have many gaps of their understanding.

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