Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astronomers discover new kind of supernova

Date:
March 26, 2013
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Supernovae were always thought to occur in two main varieties. But a team of astronomers is reporting the discovery of a new type of supernova called Type Iax. Previously, supernovae were divided into either core-collapse or Type Ia categories. Core-collapse supernovae are the explosion of a star about 10 to 100 times as massive as our sun. Type Ia supernovae are the complete disruption of a tiny white dwarf.

This artist's conception shows the suspected progenitor of a new kind of supernova called Type Iax. Material from a hot, blue helium star at right is funneling toward a carbon/oxygen white dwarf star at left, which is embedded in an accretion disk. In many cases the white dwarf survives the subsequent explosion.
Credit: Image is provided courtesy of Christine Pulliam (CfA)

Supernovae were always thought to occur in two main varieties. But a team of astronomers including Carnegie's Wendy Freedman, Mark Phillips and Eric Persson is reporting the discovery of a new type of supernova called Type Iax.

This research has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

Previously, supernovae were divided into either core-collapse or Type Ia categories. Core-collapse supernovae are the explosion of a star about 10 to 100 times as massive as our sun. Type Ia supernovae are the complete disruption of a tiny white dwarf.

This new type, Iax, is fainter and less energetic than Type Ia. Although both types come from exploding white dwarfs, Type Iax supernovas may not completely destroy the white dwarf. "A Type Iax supernova is essentially a mini supernova," says lead author Ryan Foley, Clay Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "It's the runt of the supernova litter."

The research team--which also included Max Stritzinger, formerly of Carnegie--identified 25 examples of the new type of supernova. None of them appeared in elliptical galaxies, which are filled with old stars. This suggests that Type Iax supernovas come from young star systems.

Based on a variety of observational data, the team concluded that a Type Iax supernova comes from a binary star system containing a white dwarf and a companion star that has lost its outer hydrogen, leaving it helium dominated. The white dwarf collects helium from the normal star.

Researchers aren't sure what triggers a Type Iax. It's possible that the outer helium layer ignites first, sending a shock wave into the white dwarf. Alternatively, the white dwarf might ignite first due to the influence of the overlying helium shell.

Either way, it appears that in many cases the white dwarf survives the explosion, unlike in a Type Ia supernova where the white dwarf is completely destroyed.

The team calculates that Type Iax supernovae are about a third as common as Type Ia supernovae. The reason so few have been detected is that the faintest are only one-hundredth as bright as a Type Ia supernova.

"The closer we look, the more ways we find for stars to explode," Phillips said.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope could discover thousands of Type Iax supernovas over its lifetime.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ryan J. Foley, P. J. Challis, R. Chornock, M. Ganeshalingam, W. Li, G. H. Marion, N. I. Morrell, G. Pignata, M. D. Stritzinger, J. M. Silverman, X. Wang, J. P. Anderson, A. V. Filippenko, W. L. Freedman, M. Hamuy, S. W. Jha, R. P. Kirshner, C. McCully, S. E. Persson, M. M. Phillips, D. E. Reichart, A. M. Soderberg. Type Iax Supernovae: A New Class of Stellar Explosion. The Astrophysical Journal, 2013; 767 (1): 57 DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/767/1/57

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Astronomers discover new kind of supernova." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326133337.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2013, March 26). Astronomers discover new kind of supernova. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326133337.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Astronomers discover new kind of supernova." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326133337.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 14, 2014) The space shuttle replica Independence has been hoisted atop Space Center Houston's shuttle carrier aircraft, creating a monument to the shuttle program which will open to the public next year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins