A Christmas Star Explosion: Neutron Star Spirals Into the Heart of a Companion Star
My friend Norma works with the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project – Los Alamos National Laboratory. Yesterday she sent me a super cool email with this small article from the lab, and I wanted to share it… I loved this- so very interesting! Computational science, code, stars, spirals, what’s not to love? Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to the LANL news release on this study because it required a login, but I will ask one of my parents to look this up for me. I want to see if there is more information on the computational code used to study the star collision. Hummm?
Christmas Burst Reveals Neutron Star Collision
December 6, 2011
Old model, new data: a match made in the heavens. A strangely powerful, long-lasting gamma-ray burst on Christmas Day, 2010 has finally been analyzed to the satisfaction of a multinational research team. Called the Christmas Burst, GRB 101225A was freakishly lengthy and it produced radiation at unusually varying wavelengths. But by matching the data with a model developed in 1998, the team was able to characterize the star explosion as a neutron star spiraling into the heart of its companion star. The paper titled, “The unusual gamma-ray burst GRB 101225A from a helium star/neutron star merger at redshift 0.33,” appeared in a recent issue of the journal Nature. Christina Thöne of Spain’s Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía is the lead author, and Los Alamos computational scientist Chris Fryer is a contributor. Fryer, with the Lab’s Computer, Computational, and Statistical Sciences Division, realized that the peculiar evolution of the thermal emission (first showing X-rays with a characteristic radius of ~1011 cm followed by optical and infra-red emission at ~1014 cm) could be naturally explained by a model he and Stan Woosley of the University of California at Santa Cruz had developed in 1998. “The Helium Merger Model explained all the properties we were seeing,” Fryer said, although he noted that proving this required a series of additional computational models by the international theory team studying this “Christmas burst” and the work is still under way. Fryer is working with Wesley Even of the Los Alamos X Theoretical Design Division, using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Simulation and Computing Codes to study the emission of this burst in more detail.
For more information, see the LANL news release.