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July 2015: New 3-D models of supernova process presented by MSU astrophysicist's research team


MSU P-A Assistant Professor Sean Couch is part of a research team developing advanced models of stellar structure and evolution. They have recently published results describing the events leading up to massive stars' collapse and explosion as supernovae, based on computer models treating the process fully in three dimensions.

Earlier theoretical models and their computational counterparts typically simplified stellar structure so that it could be represented in one dimension, assuming radial symmetry, resulting in straightforward calcualtions. This assumption of perfect sphericity and uniform composition depending only on depth within a star unfortunately alsocaused the expected violent supernova explosion not to occur within the models. Dr. Couch's team was able to use recent advances in computational ability to free themselves from the simplified models and allow for more complexity, which then sets the stage for the real physical processes of the explosion to make themselves known.

For additional information about Dr. Couch's team's research, see this article in MSU Today.