Simulation of a 3-Dimensional Magnetorotational Core Collapse

What happens when stars collapse? Astronomers can make observations of supernova that tell us what is happening on the surface of a star during core collapse, but it's considerably more difficult to know what is driving the process inside the star at its hot, dense core.

Caltech postdoctoral scholar Philipp Mösta and Christian Ott, professor of theoretical astrophysics, present a three-dimensional model of a rapidly-rotating star with a strong magnetic field undergoing the process of collapse and explosion...or at least trying to.

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Credit: Philip Mösta, Christian Ott / Caltech

To begin, Mösta and Ott set all the conditions for a star that is about to collapse and explode in a supernova: it is massive (10 times the size of our sun), it is spinning on its axis once every one-thousandth of a second, and it has a strong magnetic field. When this star explodes, it won't just be a supernova, it will be what astronomers refer to as a hypernova.