Monday, October 24, 2011

Mysteries of 2000 Y.O. Chineese Super-Nova Solved

Tim Sayell sends in an interesting article from Yahoo News concerning mysteries surrounding a 2 thousand year old super nova documented two Millennium ago in 185 A.D. by Chinese astronomers. This particular Super nova was the first of its' kind ever documented. Of course it wasn't until the 60s that scientists began to understand that this titanic explosion was the death throes of a star. But after finding many more such "super explosions " RCW 86 began to stand out as an odd set of data that seemed to contradict itself. The really obvious occurrence is that RCW-86 is more than twice the size (expansion) than any other super nova of it's type and age had any right being. (the article states that in infrared the expansion globe is larger than our full moon!)

Astronomers combined data from Spitzer and WISE telescopes with existing information from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory.

Evidence suggests that RCW 86 may have been a binary star with RCW 86 being a sun much like our own. Stars like our SOL don't often explode, but an influx of fuel during the expansion to a red giant phase may have triggered a mild explosion and RCW 86 collapsed to a white dwarf, leaving a LOT of empty space around it. Any further fuel from the companion would mean that a much more energetic explosion was imminent.

When the supernova finally did take place, it did not encounter the regular dust that surrounds most of these type 1A explosions and expanded rapidly and continued for quite a while..

There is an excellent description of how the white dwarf and the companion star dynamic worked over at the yahoo site here.

No comments: