The supernova of a generation.
There will be a slew of stories about this in the next few days. The important takeaways are as follows:
- After almost a half century, astronomers have finally proven the theory that type Ia supernovae come from the explosion of a white dwarf star, overloaded with material sucked from its binary companion.
- The prediction that the companion would be a red giant star, however, has turned out to be wrong. At the same time, astronomers still do not know what kind of star it was in this particular case.
- With this new knowledge astronomers will have a better chance of identifying type Ia supernovae, before they go boom.
- Finally, type Ia supernovae are used to measure the expansion rate of the universe, and thus were the key to discovering dark energy. By better understanding how these supernovae occur, cosmologists will be better able to constrain what they know about dark energy.