June 2009

Video: Visualizing buoyancy-driven turbulent nuclear combustion

Gravitation from companion-star matter falling onto a white dwarf’s surface ignites carbon in the dwarf’s core, which begins to fuse at about 1.38 times the mass of our sun. This visualization shows a small segment of a white dwarf. Rapid nuclear burning lasts only a few seconds before an energy build-up causes the star to explode as a type Ia supernova that blazes 5 billion times brighter than the sun.

University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory: D. Townsley, R. Bair, A. Dubey, R. Fisher, N. Hearn, D. Lamb and K. Riley