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Core-Collapse Supernovae supercomputer simulations reveal complex physics of exploding massive stars



Impression of the artist Supernova

Impression of the artist for a supernova.

In a study published recently in Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers Dr. Jade Powell and Dr. Bernhard Mueller of the ARC Center for Perfection for Gravitational Wave Detection (OzGrav) simulated three core collapses using supercomputers from across Australia, including the OzSTAR supercomputer at the University of Technology. The simulation models – which are 39 times, 20 times and 18 times more massive than our Sun – have revealed new knowledge about the explosion of massive stars and the next generation of gravitational wave detectors.

The supernova collapse of the nucleus is the explosive death of massive stars at the end of their lives. They are one of the brightest objects in the universe and are the birthplace of black holes and neutron stars. The most gravitational waves“Principles in space and time discovered by these supernovae help scientists better understand the astrophysics of black holes and neutron stars.”

Future advanced gravity wave detectors, designed to be more sensitive, could possibly detect a supernova – a supernova collapse of the nucleus could be the first object observed simultaneously in electromagnetic light, neutrinos and gravitational waves.

3D-volume rendering of the supernova Core-Collapse

3D three-dimensional image of the supernova collapse of the nucleus. Credit: Bernhard Müller, Monash University

To detect the supernova collapse of the nucleus in gravitational waves, scientists must predict what the signal of the gravitational wave will look like. Supercomputers are used to simulate these space explosions to understand their complex physics. This allows scientists to predict what the detectors will see when the star explodes and its observational properties.

In the study, simulations of three exploding massive stars followed the operation of the supernova engine for a long time – this is important for accurate predictions of neutron star masses and observable explosion energy.

OzGrav doctoral researcher Jade Powell says: “Our models are 39 times, 20 times and 18 times more massive than our Sun. The model with 39 solar masses is important because it rotates very fast and most previous simulations of supernovae long-lived do not include the effects of rotation. “

The two most massive models produce neutrino-powered energy explosions, but the smallest model did not explode. Stars that do not explode emit gravitational waves of lower amplitude, but the frequency of their gravitational waves lies in the most sensitive range of gravitational wave detectors.

“For the first time, we have shown that rotation changes the relationship between the gravitational wave frequency and the properties of a newly formed neutron star,” explains Powell.

The fast-rotating model showed large gravitational wave amplitudes that would cause the exploding star to be detected nearly 6.5 million light-years by the next generation of gravitational wave detectors, such as the Einstein Telescope.

Reference: “Three-dimensional simulations of supernovae of strong and rotating descendants” by Jade Powell and Bernhard Müller, April 24, 2020, Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society,,
DOI: 10.1093 / mnras / staa1048




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