GALLERY: The Supercomputer Supernova
"Now, two of the three most recent and best-observed Type Ia supernovae are weird, giving us new clues to how stars explode," said Filippenko. "This may be teaching us something general about Type Ia supernovae that theorists need to understand. Maybe what we think of as ‘normal' behavior for these supernovae is actually unusual, and this weird behavior is the new normal."
In an effort to better grasp what is going on in the early stages of Type 1a supernovae, effort is being spent on surveying the skies more often so the early signals of these stellar explosions can be detected. New survey telescopes, such as the Palomar Transient Factor in San Diego County and the Pan-STARRS in Hawaii, are continually scanning the skies to detect more of them.
"Very, very early observations give us the most stringent constraints on what the star's behavior really is in the first stages of the explosion, rather than just relying on theoretical speculation or extrapolating back from observations at later times, which is like observing adolescents to understand early childhood," said Filippenko.