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Astronomers make first radio observations of key type of supernova

The uncertainty of science: Using a variety of telescopes, astronomers have not only made the first radio observations of key type of supernova, they have also detected helium in the data, suggesting that this particular supernova of that type was still atypical.

This marks the first confirmed Type Ia supernova triggered by a white dwarf star that pulled material from a companion star with an outer layer consisting primarily of helium; normally, in the rare cases where the material stripped from the outer layers of the donor star could be detected in spectra, this was mostly hydrogen.

Type Ia supernovae are important for astronomers since they are used to measure the expansion of the universe. However, the origin of these explosions has remained an open question. While it is established that the explosion is caused by a compact white dwarf star that somehow accretes too much matter from a companion star, the exact process and the nature of the progenitor is not known. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted sentences are really the most important take-away from this research. Type Ia supernovae were the phenomenon used by cosmologists to detect the unexpected acceleration of the universe’s expansion billions of years ago. That research assumed these supernovae were well understood and consistently produced the same amount of energy and light, no matter how far away they were or the specific conditions which caused them.

This new supernovae research illustrates how absurd that assumption was. Type Ia supernovae are produced by the interaction of two stars, both of which could have innumerable unique features. It is therefore unreasonable as a scientist to assume all such supernovae are going to be identical in their output. And yet, that is what the cosmologists did in declaring the discovery of dark energy in the late 1990s.

It is also what the scientists who performed this research do. To quote one of the co-authors: “While normal Type Ia supernovae appear to always explode with the same brightness, this supernova tells us that there are many different pathways to a white dwarf star explosion.”

Forgive me if I remain very skeptical.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • David Reid Ross

    Tangential to topic of radio-astronomy, here’s a proposal to get Arecibo rebuilt into a smaller, cheaper, and better state. Next Generation Arecibo Telescope. NGAT-130:

  • pzatchok

    Nothing is exactly identical or always the same in nature.
    Why would stars of any type be different?

  • Ray Van Dune

    How many Starlink-type steerable antennae would it take to build out the basic infrastructure of Arecibo 2.0?

    Yes, these apertures are tinier than even the 2.0 proposal, but synthetic aperture software can do wonders, and software has great growth potential. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good, and the doable!

  • An Observation

    The reasons that all type 1A supernova are considered to be the same are quantum mechanical. At the intense gravitational field strength of a white dwarf star approaching the Chandrasekhar limit all matter is in a degenerate state with the electrons forced into the closest possible orbits outside the nucleus. When the limit is reached the electrons are forced into the nucleus turning everything in the atom into neutrons. This collection of neutrons collapses into a solid neutron star and releases the same amount of gravitational collapse energy regardless of what the previous matter make up of the 2 stars involved were.

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