Understanding the thermonuclear explosion of Type Ia supernovae — powerful and luminous stellar explosions — is only possible through theoretical models, which previously were not able to account for the mechanism that detonated the explosion.
One of the key pieces of this explosion, present virtually in all models, is the formation of a supersonic reaction wave called detonation, which can travel faster than the speed of sound and is capable of burning up all of the material of a star before it gets dispersed into the vacuum of space.
But, the physics of the mechanisms that create a detonation in a star has been elusive.
Now, a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut, Texas A&M University,
University of Central Florida, Naval Research Laboratory, and Air Force Research Laboratory has developed a theory that sheds light on the enigmatic process of detonation formation at the heart of these remarkable astronomical events.