When dying stars explode into supernovae, the outward shock wave is preceded by a kind of "bounce" - matter and elementary particles collapse toward the star's core so tightly that they reach a critical threshold of density, such that nuclear forces kick in and push back against that collapse. In the end, all that's left is a glowing remnant of dust and gas.
Yet much of the physics that occurs during this process is not yet well understood, although scientists believe that at some point during the collapsing stage, the ultra-dense matter organizes itself into unusual shapes dubbed "nuclear pasta."
A new computer simulation by physicists at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, published last month in Physical Review Letters, has identified yet another new pasta shape, or phase, which they hope may one day shed some light on the very complicated physics behind supernova explosions - such as the role of neutrinos during such events.
The pasta shapes formed by nuclear particles when a supernova is developing can be rods, slabs, or bubbles (round holes, or holes shaped like cylinders). It's a category known among physicists as "frustrated matter," which also includes ferromagnets, glasses, soft solids, and the like.