NASA: We Have Discovered the Secrets of the Supernova
Officials at the U.S. space agency NASA say they uncovered the secrets of the supernova. New data from the Swift orbiting telescope have revealed exactly what leads to Type Ia supernovas, which astronomers now believe start as a white dwarf orbiting a companion star that pulls a stream of matter from it.
As the gas flows onto the white dwarf it gains mass until it reaches a critical threshold and undergoes a catastrophic explosion. These explosions, which can outshine their galaxy for weeks, release large and consistent amounts of energy at visible wavelengths. The characteristics make them among the most valuable tools in astronomy, providing scientists with a standard from which to measure brightness and distance.