Arnett is working with Casey Meakin and Nathan Smith, also at at the University of Arizona, and Maxime Viallet of the Max-Planck Institut fur Astrophysik, Germany, to develop a fully 3-dimensional model of a supernova. Their work now provides us with an even more violent and chaotic view of how a supernova detonates.
"We still have the concentric circles, with the heaviest elements in the middle and the lightest elements on top, but it is if someone put a paddle in there and mixed it around," said Arnett. "As we approach the explosion, we get flows that mix the materials together, causing the star to flop around and spit out material until we get an explosion.
"That's what see in supernova remnants, we see those ejections of star material, and how they mix with material expelled from the star during its final explosion. Other models cannot explain this," he said.
ANALYSIS: SN 2014J Oddball: Nearby Supernova Is a Bit Weird
With the help of supernova surveys, such as the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT) and Palomar Supernova Factory, observations of stars as they become unstable and explode as supernovae are becoming more detailed, providing an unprecedented look into the death of stars. Interestingly, it's not all about the massive explosion, the run-up to a supernova features many stellar complexities.
"Instead of going gently into that dark night, (the star) is fighting. It is sputtering and spitting off material. This can take a year or two. There are small precursor events, several peaks, and then the big explosion," added Arnett. "Perhaps we need is a more sophisticated notion of what an explosion is to explain what we are seeing."
Publication: Chaos and turbulent nucleosynthesis prior to a supernova explosion, Arnett, Meakin and Viallet, 2014. DOI: 10.1063/1.4867384
Source: Physorg.com, American Institute of Physics