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Witness a Supernova.. In a Jar?!

December 10, 2010

A supernova is something that we don’t see everyday perhaps we just see it on videos or pictures and not in actual outer space. But because of the simulation made by a team of physicists from Rutgers University in New Jersey and University of Toronto by using a jar, we can actually witness how a supernova happens up close!

In the video of this supernova simulation, you will see the actual mimicking of the one of the processes on how a star explodes. In this type, the star explodes as it becomes a dense white dwarf and then it blows up as highly buoyant floating flames that takes a shape of a ring at the top and rises in a plume-like manner. In this simulation, the scientists use iodate’s self-sustaining reaction together with arsenous acid inside a jar. The jar measures a diameter of 9 centimetres.

The chemicals inside the jar resulted to a reaction that perfectly mimicked the stellar explosion is a product of a catalytic effect. Just like the buoyant flames produced during an actual star explosion, the fluid in the jar don’t have the same buoyancy which makes the more buoyant ones rise. The actual simulation took 10 minutes but it was sped up in the video.

According to Stephen Morris of the University of Toronto:

“The solution is stable until it is triggered. We do this triggering at the bottom of a small tube that you can see in the bottom of the video. This is something like a fuse. The reaction proceeds as a front up the tube until it enters the much larger main vessel. Then it billows out as a plume. All over the surface of the plume, at a thin front, like a flame front, the reaction is happening. All the fluid motion is generated by the reaction itself.”

Journal reference: Physical Review E, DOI:10.1103/PhysRevE.82.066307
Video credit: NewScientist via YouTube account LabEquipment

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