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3-D Simulations of Exploding Supernovae (Image 4)

3-D simulation showing a stage of a massive explosion of a huge, dying star

This is the third image in a sequence of four that shows the stages of a massive explosion of a huge, dying star. This supernova has the potential energy of 25 hundred trillion trillion nuclear weapons. The simulation was created by a Princeton University-led team of researchers who found a way to make computer simulations in 3-D of supernovae exploding, which may lead to new scientific insights.

Even though these mammoth explosions have been observed for thousands of years, for the past 50 years, researchers have struggled to mimic the step by step destructive action on computers. The 3-D simulations like this one are based on the idea that the collapsing star itself is not sphere-like, but distinctly asymmetrical and affected by a host of instabilities in the volatile mix surrounding its core.

This research was funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation (PHY 08-22648). To learn more, see the Princeton news story 3-D computer simulations help envision supernovae explosions. (Date of Image: Summer 2010) [Image 4 of 6 related images. See Image 5.]

Credit: Adam Burrows and Jason Nordhaus, Department of Astronomical Sciences, Princeton University

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