Monday, May 7, 2007

Pair-Instability Supernova?

I am sure you have heard of the massive supernova that has been detected. Here and here.

This time I may actually be able to tell more then the other reports! Turns out this was a major part of my research at Los Alamos. According to all current models, the first stars in the universe were esentially complely hydrogen and helium. These stars could not cool like other stars since they could not cool without other elemnts very well. Hence, these stars were very big: ~30-500 solar masses.

There is a band ~100-300 solar masses where these stars have a fate where they completly blow up. Honestly, (See Chart Below) there is no remnat left behind. This is a supernova to end all supernovas. It is called a pair-instability supernova.

Turns out astronomers think this recently observed supernova is the result of a 150 solar mass star. The explosion is over 100 times that of all other observed supernova. This supernova seems to fit the pair-instability model very well. It is neat to see such a event.

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