A nova is a star that suddenly becomes tens to hundreds of times brighter, then fades to its former brightness in just a few months. In these nova systems, a white dwarf — the compact remains of a Sun-like star that has burned all of its fuel — pulls material from a nearby companion star until enough accumulates to trigger a thermonuclear explosion on the white dwarf's surface.
This 3D model of such a nova outburst of an object called U Scorpii is based on a scientific simulation, informed by observations. It explores the first 18 hours after the last outburst observed on January 28, 2010 in the system. Astronomers have seen U Scorpii - which is about 40,000 light years away from us- erupt about once every decade, so this system is due for another outburst very soon.
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Learn more at chandra.si.edu/corps/
Published: August 2020