Summary of research for: “Local Radiation Hydrodynamic Simulations of Massive Star Envelopes at The Iron Opacity Peak”

This is a layman summary of “Local Radiation Hydrodynamic Simulations of Massive Star Envelopes at The Iron Opacity Peak” from Yan-Fei Jiang (姜燕飞), Matteo Cantiello , Lars Bildsten, Eliot Quataert and Omer Blaes. The full article can be downloaded from the arXiv.

This layman summary is part of the Public Friendly Open Science initiative.

Broader Context

Stars more massive than about 10 times our Sun (massive stars) experience a short, eventful life. They shine bright and burn their nuclear fuel in just a few million years. When their fuel reservoir is over, they initially collapse due to their own tremendous gravitational pull. This initial collapse is arrested when the stellar core reaches nuclear densities, so that the in-falling outer layers bounce on top of the core and produce a powerful explosion. This is called a “core-collapse Supernova”. The energy released in this process is enormous, so large that supernovae become as luminous as their entire galaxy (which is usually made of hundred billion stars) for several weeks. The ashes of this cosmic firework contain most of the elements of which we are made of. Also, the leftovers of this stellar death are exotic corpses: neutron stars and black holes. Astrophysicists love them because using these stellar remnants they can test physics theories in very extreme conditions (extreme density and gravity), something that can not be done in a laboratory on Earth.