Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, General Astronomy, Supernovae > Astronomers Discover A New Kind Of Supernova

Astronomers Discover A New Kind Of Supernova


Artist's conception. Credit: Christine Pulliam (CfA)

Artist’s conception. Credit: Christine Pulliam (CfA)

Until now, supernovas came in two main “flavors.” A core-collapse supernova is the explosion of a star about 10 to 100 times as massive as our sun, while a Type Ia supernova is the complete disruption of a tiny white dwarf. Today, astronomers are reporting their discovery of a new kind of supernova called Type Iax. This new class is fainter and less energetic than Type Ia. Although both varieties come from exploding white dwarfs, Type Iax supernovas may not completely destroy the white dwarf.

“A Type Iax supernova is essentially a mini supernova,” says lead author Ryan Foley, Clay Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). “It’s the runt of the supernova litter.”

Foley and his colleagues identified 25 examples of the new type of supernova. None of them appeared in elliptical galaxies, which are filled with old stars. This suggests that Type Iax supernovas come from young star systems.

Based on a variety of observational data, the team concluded that a Type Iax supernova comes from a binary star system containing a white dwarf and a companion star that has lost its outer hydrogen, leaving it helium dominated. The white dwarf collects helium from the normal star.

Full Story: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2013/pr201309.html
Also: https://carnegiescience.edu/news/astronomers_discover_new_kind_supernova

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