This Supernova Had A ‘Delayed Detonation’

In 2008, astronomers discovered a star relatively nearby Earth went kablooie some 28,000 light-years away from us. Sharp-eyed astronomers, as they will do, trained their telescopes on it to snap pictures and take observations. Now, fresh observations from the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory suggest that supernova was actually a double-barrelled explosion.

This composite picture of G1.9+0.3, coupled with models by astronomers, suggest that this star had a “delayed detonation,” NASA stated.

“First, nuclear reactions occur in a slowly expanding wavefront, producing iron and similar elements. The energy from these reactions causes the star to expand, changing its density and allowing a much faster-moving detonation front of nuclear reactions to occur.”

To explain a bit better what’s going on with this star, there are two main types of supernovas:

In a Type Ia supernova, a white dwarf (left) draws matter from a companion star until its mass hits a limit which leads to collapse and then explosion. Credit: NASA
In a Type Ia supernova, a white dwarf (left) draws matter from a companion star until its mass hits a limit which leads to collapse and then explosion. Credit: NASA

– Type Ia: When a white dwarf merges with another white dwarf, or picks up matter from a close star companion. When enough mass accretes on the white dwarf, it reaches a critical density where carbon and oxygen fuse, then explodes.

– Type II: When a massive star reaches the end of its life, runs out of nuclear fuel and sees its iron core collapse.

NASA said this was a Type Ia supernova that “ejected stellar debris at high velocities, creating the supernova remnant that is seen today by Chandra and other telescopes.”

New research shows that some old stars known as white dwarfs might be held up by their rapid spins, and when they slow down, they explode as Type Ia supernovae. Thousands of these "time bombs" could be scattered throughout our Galaxy. In this artist's conception, a supernova explosion is about to obliterate an orbiting Saturn-like planet.   Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)
In this artist’s conception, a supernova explosion is about to obliterate an orbiting Saturn-like planet. Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

You can actually see the different energies from the explosion in this picture, with red low-energy X-rays, green intermediate energies and blue high-energies.

“The Chandra data show that most of the X-ray emission is “synchrotron radiation,” produced by extremely energetic electrons accelerated in the rapidly expanding blast wave of the supernova. This emission gives information about the origin of cosmic rays — energetic particles that constantly strike the Earth’s atmosphere — but not much information about Type Ia supernovas,” NASA stated.

Also, unusually, this is an assymetrical explosion. There could have been variations in how it expanded, but astronomers are looking to map this out with future observations with Chandra and the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array.

Check out more information about this supernova in the scientific paper led by North Carolina State University.

Source: NASA

34 Replies to “This Supernova Had A ‘Delayed Detonation’”

    1. THAT is the coolest thing about astronomy…. there’s always something new and amazing!

      1. I totally agree! Blew my mind. Never knew that before. And I am a freak for super-nova’s and blackholes The roaming planemo’s are so cool. They have no star or no NOTHING! Just a big-rolling-stone ;-). And it gathers no moss either…lol. I got a starter kit from an old buddy for a t-scope base w/lower unit. Waiting for the other parts. He said I’ll be able Saturn really clear with its moons. And see the other gas giants, Neptune etc.’s. There are add-ons as well. 😉

    2. This will fuel the debate as to whether type 1a are created by accretion or white dwarf merger. A triple system accretion could result in two white dwarfs reaching the Chandrasekhar limit independently but how rare that would be.

      1. Rare? YES! Do you mean merger as in a collision? Or just coming together when orbiting too close then coming together? Either way, so awesome! (weird, I erased this post. I did a lousy job)

      2. Rare? Heavens YES! Seems to me they collided by orbiting too close and impacted one another. Whatever happened, I’d like to observe it. In an event like that, I wonder if the two white dwarfs could leave a blackhole? It is the possibilities I ponder. We are in the infancy of space knowledge and exploration. I sure wish I -(we)- could live a hundred times as long we do now. Life is so short to see all the wonders of this cosmos.

    3. Who ever keeps giving negative vote downs…GROW UP! Because I didn’t know a type-1a-supernnova could double explode? lmao@idiot! GROW UP!

      1. So its you? Must be. Well, we all have our opinions. Its a butt-hole thing. We all got one. Your talking out of yours AGAIN. Wipe your mouth, it must STINK!

      2. And yes you are. So very evident. Good for you. You know what you are pure and simple. No need to continue this rather pathetic relay. It is finished. I win!

      3. C’mon man, grow a little thicker skin! And, for the record, I’m not the “coward” that you reference. Also, it’s manner, not manor, as in a large dwelling. Commence your attack on me Planemo.

      4. You just prove my point for me. You certainly have a high opinion of yourself.

      5. LMAO@U! WOW! Your telling me “AGAIN” -(its old now)- I missed one letter ‘n’ is a word that has two side by side!? Then your telling me to have thicker skin when it was over hours ago and if you would of read prior posts you would of known! And now I hold a high opinion of myself when it is YOU who cannot mind your business!! Its my fault? WOW! No one posted him or i but YOU Willamina! What is wrong with you! Your guilt from past posts proves it. You want to be the center piece of attention! Sorry Willamina, wrong man here! You actually knew nothing because this was settled 2 hours before you stuck your Willamina nose in 2 hours after the facts! Look, just please stay away from posting to me!

      6. I thought you were finished with this? I guess that makes you a liar also..Your too funny wierdamo… You will never win. HA!HA!HA!

      7. This was the last I got i my email. Look at the time stamp brilliant one.Time stamp was way off. Was delayed. Why? Who knows Internet BS? So I replied and said “HOW”? Get it now moron?…lol.

      8. lol@whatever. At least your fun. That one liner yesterday had me in stitches. …evil a-hole. Damn, …you win!

      9. lmao@you for this post. You actually cracked me with this post. Ok, you get one point for this one! ….damn.

  1. Although this SNR exploded over 25,000 years ago, the radio signals/x-rays are estimated to have reached us only within the last 140 years (based on the year 2008). IT WAS NOT DISCOVERED IN 2008! So from our perspective, it did not suddenly appear in 2008 as a new supernova.
    The SNR is estimated to be about 1.3 ly across …

    Someone who wrote this article didn’t quote the source accurately …

    The most recent supernova to explode in our local neighborhood is SN1987a which is in the Large Magellanic Cloud which is one of many satellite galaxies of our Milky Way Galaxy,

    A new Supernova only 28,000 would be HUGE news and would have and still be attracting the attention of large numbers of astronomers but this is just a bit of scrambling of data by the writer.

    1. Yes.. that first sentence is a bit misleading? But then again the info. in Wikipedia is also misleading… that info states: “The remnant’s young age was established by combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the VLA radio observatory, and is believed to have exploded about 25,000 years ago, and the signal began reaching us 140 years ago (as of 2008).”

      Then later on the same page states: “G1.9+0.3 was first identified as a SNR in 1984 from observations made with the VLA radio telescope.Because of its unusually small angular size, it was thought to be young—less than about one thousand years old. In 2007, X-ray observations made with the Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed that the object was about 15% larger than in the earlier VLA observations. Further observations made with the VLA in 2008 verified increase in size, implying it is no more than 150 years old.”

  2. Aqua, i have had that same discussion with people about Wiki ever since it first appeared.
    i once wrote a fake article for wiki just to prove my point. i was banned of course, but the article (which was related to WW2) stayed up for several days.

    1. Not sure what your point is re Wiki, the editors deleted your article once it was assessed. That is the whole point of the way Wiki works but of course it is frustrated by people like you who deliberately waste editors time by posting false information. If you use and see any value in Wiki, get on board and post well researched entries and add to the sum of human information exchange instead of trying to prove how sneaky you can be.

  3. I don’t understand why this is not massive headline news as we have been waiting hundreds of years for a nearby SN and at 28kLY it is quite close.

    Is it that it is largely hidden by the galactic core?

  4. The Chandra website states: “If gas and dust had not heavily obscured it, the explosion would have been visible from Earth just over a century ago.”

    1. Thanks, that clarifies it, now lets hope we get a new one nearby (but not too near) 🙂

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