Astronomers from various countries made a particular discovery thanks to the help of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT): they are stellar explosions called micronovaewith a power capable of destroying more than 3,500 pyramids of Giza.
Simone Scaringi, an astronomer at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom who led the study on these explosions, spoke on April 20 after the publication in Nature.
It may interest you:
Scientists ignore Stephen Hawking’s warning about aliens
“We have discovered and identified for the first time what we call a micronova. The phenomenon challenges our understanding of how thermonuclear explosions occur in stars. We thought we knew, but this discovery proposes a totally new way to achieve them, “said the astronomer.
Like their older sisters, the Novae, these micronovae are powerful explosions that occur in white dwarfs, dead stars with a mass close to that of our Sun, but as small as Earth.
A white dwarf in a two-star system can steal material, mostly hydrogen, from its companion star if they are close enough. As this gas falls onto the very hot surface of the white dwarf star, it triggers hydrogen atoms to explosively fuse into helium. In novae, these thermonuclear explosions occur across the entire stellar surface. “Such detonations cause the entire surface of the white dwarf to burn and glow for several weeks,” explains co-author Nathalie Degenaar, an astronomer at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The astronomer Scaringi added that this discovery shows that the universe has much more to surprise us.
“It just shows how dynamic the Universe is. These events can actually be quite common, but because they are so fast, they are difficult to detect in action,” explains Scaringi.