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Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:43 AM

NASA has figured out how to cause a supernova




NASA, for some reason that the agency has chosen not to share, is quite interested in just exactly what it takes to set off a Type Ia supernova. Thanks to a series of X-ray and ultraviolet observations from the SWIFT satellite, NASA says that "we have a clearer picture of what's required to blow up these stars." Oh, good.

Type Ia supernovae are a specific type of stellar explosion that are very, very important because astronomers can use them as what's called "standard candles."

Standard candles (there are only a few different kinds and they're all very rare) are things that we can see with a telescope and know how far away they are. Usually, if you see something through a telescope, there's no reliable way of knowing whether it's a bright thing that's far away or a dim thing that's up close. A standard candle has a luminosity (or, an intrinsic brightness) that doesn't ever change, so based on how bright or dim it looks to us here on Earth, we can figure out how far away it (and everything around it) actually is.

With Type Ia supernovae, the standard candle is a white dwarf star that blows up. We know a fair amount about white dwarfs themselves: they're main-sequence stars (like our sun) that have used up all of their fuel and collapsed into a white blob about the size of the Earth, glowing thanks to stored-up leftover heat. Made up mostly of carbon and oxygen, white dwarfs can't undergo fusion on their own, so they just sit there and slowly cool off until eventually they stop putting out any light at all.

Sometimes, though, a white dwarf will have a companion star, as part of a binary system. And though the white dwarf is very small for a star, it still has star-like gravity, and it'll start sucking up material from its companion.

more

http://dvice.com/archives/2012/03/nasa-has-figure.php

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply NASA has figured out how to cause a supernova (Original post)
n2doc Mar 2012 OP
Mz Pip Mar 2012 #1
Silent3 Mar 2012 #2
eppur_se_muova Mar 2012 #3
bvar22 Mar 2012 #4
Orsino Mar 2012 #5
lastlib Mar 2012 #6
fightforfreedom123 Mar 2012 #7
BadgerKid Mar 2012 #8

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:26 AM

1. NASA figured out what to do

but they really don't know how to do it. It might be hard to actually move a white dwarf to the right location of the star we would want to blow up. Details, details.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 02:46 PM

2. The last attempt to bomb the moon failed to get rid of the damned thing

We have to try something with a bit more bang. If we take out the Earth at the same time, so be it. The moon has got to go.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:55 AM

3. "for some reason ..." like wanting to know if it's likely to happen nearby ?

I don't think we want a supernova within a hundred light-years of Earth anytime soon. If we know it's going to happen, all of humanity will have one and only one goal for the forseeable future: move.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 10:15 AM

4. Good!

There are a few stars lately that have really been pissing me off.
They won't be so uppity NOW!

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 10:28 AM

5. Daring the Republicans to cut their budget again. n/t

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 12:28 PM

6. So what exactly does this have to do with Whitney Houston?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 03:30 AM

7. Then this must not be far behind

 

Time Travel and Black Holes.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 07:19 AM

8. Shhhhh....it's the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. n/t

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