Recently, the first time-lapse images of a thermonuclear fireball blasting out of a nova star have been captured by the astronomers.
An international team of researchers worked together to map the nova eruption, a baby brother to a supernova explosion. The study is published in the Nature journal.
Professor Peter Tuthill of the University of Sydney’s Institute for Astronomy stated that, “Although novae often play second fiddle in the popular imagination to their more famous big cousins – the supernovae – they are a truly remarkable celestial phenomenon.”
When a striking, compact star known as white dwarf shreds the matter from a nearby companion star with its intense gravitational field, Novae happen.
The white dwarf frequently sucks hydrogen from its partner, forming an ocean on its surface similar to the little stellar mosquito . After forming about as much mass as the entire planet Saturn, the pressure reaches a critical point, then bang!
Professor Tuthill said, “The stellar surface turns into one titanic hydrogen bomb throwing a fireball out into space and pushing a previously faint, murky star system into eminence as a nova in our night skies.”
However, the rage of the expansion is breathtaking, surrounding an area the size of the Earth’s orbit within a day, and passing Jupiter’s orbit in less than two weeks. In spite of the massive size of the fireball, at the remotest distance to this star of 15000 light years, it took very special technology to be able to image it at all.”
The team of researchers collaborated with the Georgia State University scientists, running the Centre for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array in Southern California, in order to make the fine measurements necessary to map the event.
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SOURCE: Capital Wired