Do Puny White Dwarfs Make Wimpy Supernovae?

The binary star system J0923+3028 consists of two white dwarfs: a visible star 23 percent as massive as our Sun and about four times the diameter of Earth, and an unseen companion 44 percent of the Sun’s mass and about one Earth-diameter in size. The stars will spiral in toward each other and merge in about 100 million years. (Credit: Clayton Ellis (CfA))

Based on results from a radial velocity survey, Warren Brown, (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) and his team have placed a few more pieces into the supernova puzzle.

Supernovae come in many flavors. There are Type Ia, the “standard candles” everyone has heard of; and there are Type Ib and Ic, which also involve binary systems. We also have Type II supernovae that are believed to be the core collapse of single, super-massive stars. There are also super-luminous supernovae, which may be the explosive conversion of a neutron star into a quark star, and finally the weak-kneed cousins of the bunch, the under-performing underluminous supernovae.

Underluminous supernovae are a rare type of supernova explosion 10–100 times less luminous than a normal SN Type Ia and eject only 20% as much matter. Brown and his team have been investigating the connection between underluminous supernovae and merging pairs of white dwarfs. (…) Read the rest of Do Puny White Dwarfs Make Wimpy Supernovae? (517 words)

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