Two University of Texas at Arlington researchers want to bridge the gap between what is known about exploding stars and the remnants left behind thousands of years later. So they’re trying something new – using SNSPH, a complex computer code developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

SNSPH is a parallel 3-dimensional radiation hydrodynamics code written in 2005, and is being used to create 3D simulations of a core-collapse supernova evolving into remnants.

“There are a lot of numerical simulations for the explosion of the supernova and a lot of simulations of the blast wave expanding into interstellar medium, but there was no useful work connecting the two, even though the physics are connected,” said Park. “Now, we are using the most appropriate program we know to do that.”

Core collapse supernovas make up nearly three-quarters of all supernovas and they are the type of star explosions that create black holes and neutron stars. Scientists study them to learn more about the history and landscape of the universe, including how minerals were distributed and planets formed. Typically, individual researchers focus on either the blast or the remnants.

Researchers hope the new models will help reveal the detailed nature of the two features of a supernova remnant -- characteristics that arose in instabilities during the explosion and those that were created in the interaction with surrounding medium. Ellinger said she hopes the simulations will eventually be used to interpret X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra space telescope as well as other missions.

With increasingly detailed data, scientists studying supernova remnants in the Milky Way are now able to differentiate between debris that was ejected from the exploded star, also called the progenitor, and the pre-existing ambient material that was swept up in the blast wave. This gives researchers some of the parameters they need to trace the history of the remnant, according to Park and Ellinger.

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