In the August 24 issue of the journal Science, astronomers show for the first time that at least some thermonuclear (Type Ia) supernovae come from a recurrent nova. The results of the study, led by Ben Dilday, a postdoctoral researcher in physics at UC Santa Barbara and at Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT), are surprising because previous indirect –– but strong –– evidence had pointed to the merger of two white dwarf stars as the originators of other Type Ia supernovae.
Authors include UCSB postdoctoral fellow Ben Dilday, adjunct faculty Andy Howell, professor Lars Bildsten and graduate student Kevin Moore. The entire group reached the conclusion that there are multiple ways to make a Type Ia supernova –– a finding that could have implications for understanding the differences seen in these "standard candles," that were used to reveal the presence of dark energy.
Andy Howell, second author on the study, said: "It is a total surprise to find that thermonuclear supernovae, which all seem so similar, come from different kinds of stars. It is like discovering that some humans evolved from ape-like ancestors, and others came from giraffes. How could they look so similar if they had such different origins?"
Click on the link to the right to read the entire UCSB press release