Supernova Explosions (SNE) Explained
Arguably, the most spectacular event that is observed in Astronomy is a SuperNova Event (SNE) (aka: SuperNova Explosion).
A supernova is a cataclysmic total explosion of a star.
Let us distinguish between a supernova explosion and the normal process that a star goes through as it shines.
Normal stars are in a constant state of explosion as an ongoing gigantic hydrogen bomb through the process of nuclear fusion. The explosion that takes place in a star, like the Sun, is an ongoing controlled explosion that continues steadily for billions of years. It is what our Sun is doing as it shines 7x24x365, year after year after year. For practical purposes the Sun has been exploding by nuclear fusion for billions of years, and will continue to explode by nuclear fusion for billions of years more. One may think of it like a car’s combustion engine, which is similarly an ongoing controlled gasoline explosion.
However, a supernova explosion is different from the normal ongoing controlled nuclear fusion explosion of the Sun.
A supernova explosion is a complete sudden instantaneous explosion of a complete star, all at once (a period of hours or days, very short compared to the multi-billion year life of most stars), which causes all the material from the star to expand into space as a gigantic cloud, leaving nothing of the original star structure behind.
i.e. one minute the star is shining as normal; the next minute the star is completely blown to smithereens.
However, despite the fact that we have observed supernova explosions when they have occurred, there is very little information on the conditions that pre-existed before the explosion. For SN1987A, after the explosion occurred and the dust blew away, it was noticed that a blue super-giant that existed before the explosion was no longer there. This is a very strong clue that blue super-giants may, in many cases be the pre-cursor to an SNE.
The most famous supernova explosion is the “Crab”, so-named because when viewed optically the remains of that explosion appears to look somewhat like a crab.
The Crab supernova explosion occurred in 1054 AD and was observed by Chinese astronomers at that time: Here is how the Crab supernova is observed today.
Interestingly, today, the Crab nebula and its internal pulsar together are emitting 75,000 times the energy of the Sun! i.e. 1,000 years after the original supernova explosion the remains of that explosion are still emitting as much energy as 75,000 stars like the Sun! The “nebula” consists of what’s left over from the star that was shining there up until 1054 AD when it exploded.
So, some questions naturally arise:
- Why did the star, that became the Crab, explode one thousand years ago?
- Why are the remains of the explosion still emitting 75,000 times the energy emitted by the Sun?
- Why is there a neutron star pulsar at the center of the remnants of the explosion rotating 30 times per second?
The answers to these questions will be explained here using a new theory that provides a complete picture that can explain all pulsars and supernova explosions using a single mechanism: neutron star capture, which asserts that there must be a sufficiently large number of pre-existing neutron stars in the galaxy to account for the generation of all pulsars and supernova explosions, by simply having a neutron star encounter a normal star, and be captured by that star, such that the neutron star and the normal star end up being bound in a binary system. Subsequent to the initial binding the NS loses orbital energy each time it encounters the target star, and the orbit is drawn closer and closer toward the center of the star. In some cases, the target star will explode in a SNE, in other cases the target star may simply slowly evaporate until nothing is left. However, all cases are explained by an initial binding capture event.
There were 3 discoveries that occurred during the years 1967->1971 that explain everything.
- 1967: the first pulsar was discovered. It was not clear, at first, what it was, but suspicions existed that it might be a neutron star.
- 1968: a pulsar was discovered at the center of the Crab Nebula, which was rotating at 30 times per second.
- 1971: the X-ray pulsar, Cen X-3, was discovered to be a neutron star orbiting a giant star in a close binary system.
Let us briefly review these three discoveries in order to understand their significance.
1. 1967: First Pulsar Discovered
As described in this reference:
“The first pulsar was observed on November 28, 1967, by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish.They observed pulses separated by 1.33 seconds that originated from the same location on the sky, …”
The above reference goes on to say:
“In 1967, shortly before the discovery of pulsars, Franco Pacini suggested that a rotating neutron star with a magnetic field would emit radiation, and even noted that such energy could be pumped into a supernova remnant around a neutron star, such as the Crab Nebula.
After the discovery of the first pulsar, Thomas Gold independently suggested a rotating neutron star model similar to that of Pacini, and explicitly argued that this model could explain the pulsed radiation observed by Bell Burnell and Hewish. ”
Therefore, it is clear that the discovery of the first pulsar (CP 1919, pulsing every 1.33 seconds), combined with theoretical considerations, was pointing to a neutron star as being the source of the pulses.
2. 1968: Pulsar Discovered at the Center of the Crab Nebula
Soon after the 1967 discovery of the first pulsar and the theoretical considerations that the pulsar might be a neutron star, dramatic confirmation of this theory was discovered:
“The Crab Pulsar (PSR B0531+21) is a relatively young neutron star. The star is the central star in the Crab Nebula, a remnant of the supernova SN 1054, which was widely observed on Earth in the year 1054. Discovered in 1968, the pulsar was the first to be connected with a supernova remnant.
The Crab Pulsar is one of very few pulsars to be identified optically. The optical pulsar is roughly 20 kilometres (12 mi) in diameter and the pulsar “beams” rotate once every 33 milliseconds, or 30 times each second. The outflowing relativistic wind from the neutron star generates synchrotron emission, which produces the bulk of the emission from the nebula, seen from radio waves through to gamma rays. The most dynamic feature in the inner part of the nebula is the point where the pulsar’s equatorial wind slams into the surrounding nebula, forming a termination shock.”
The significance of this discovery cannot be overstated. Briefly, here are the major points that resulted from this discovery:
- A neutron star was shown to be the only possible explanation for the source of the pulses that occur every 33 milliseconds (30 pulses per minute).
- The neutron star pulsar is at the center of the Crab supernova remnant, indicating that the neutron star and the original supernova explosion are indisputably connected in some manner.
- The power of the neutron star pulsar at the center of the Crab supernova remnant is enormous: 75,000 times the luminosity (energy emitted per second) of the Sun.
- The spin rate of the Crab Pulsar is slowing down. i.e. the rotation rate of the 1.4 solar mass neutron star is getting slower as time goes by. i.e. it is losing energy.
- The NS-pulsar is traveling at hundreds of km/sec through the remnants. However, since the remnants are expanding at an even much fast speed, the Crab Pulsar is still relative close to the center of the Crab Nebula.
3. 1971: Cen X-3 Pulsar Discovered to be in Close Binary System
The key to understanding the connection between supernova events and neutron star pulsars was discovered in 1971:
“In 1971, Riccardo Giacconi, Herbert Gursky, Ed Kellogg, R. Levinson, E. Schreier, and H. Tananbaum discovered 4.8 second pulsations in an X-ray source in the constellation Centaurus, Cen X-3. They interpreted this as resulting from a rotating hot neutron star. The energy source is gravitational and results from a rain of gas falling onto the surface of the neutron star from a companion star …”
Further detail on Cen X-3 may be found here:
“Centaurus X-3 (4U 1118-60) is an X-ray pulsar with a period of 4.84 seconds. It was the first X-ray pulsar to be discovered, and the third X-ray source to be discovered in the constellation Centaurus. The system consists of a neutron star orbiting a massive, O-type supergiant star” – Wikipedia
As mentioned above, an O-type supergiant star is known to have been a pre-cursor to a supernova event. So, the fact that the Cen X-3 neutron star pulsar is in a close binary system with a star of a type (O-type) that is known to be likely to blow up in a supernova is our first clue that there might be another explanation besides the NS-Creation Theory as to the connection between neutron star pulsars and supernova explosions.
In addition to being discovered as part of a close binary system, there was another remarkable property of the Cen X-3 pulsar that was also discovered at that time:
The Cen X-3 pulsar is spinning faster as time goes by!
“The spin period history of Centaurus X-3 shows a spin-up trend that is very prominent in the long term decrease in its pulse period. This spin-up was first noted in Centaurus X-3 and Hercules X-1 and is now noted in other X-ray pulsars. The most feasible way of explaining the origin of this effect is by a torque exerted on the neutron star by accreting material.” – Wikipedia
Therefore, what we have found so far in this discussion is that neutron star pulsars are found in 2 distinct environments:
- Neutron star pulsars are found at the center of supernova explosion remnants, and are clearly connected to the supernova event, itself,
and the pulsar is rapidly rotating (>>1 rotation/sec), but is slowing down (spinning down).
- Neutron star pulsars are found in close binary systems, where the companion star is known to be a common pre-cursor to a supernova explosion,
and the pulsar is slowly rotating (<<1 rotation/sec), but is speeding up (spinning up).
The obvious conclusion we can reach from this evidence is that in case 2, the pulsar will continue to speed up until the companion blows up in a supernova explosion.
As a result we will end up with a rapidly spinning neutron star pulsar at the center of the newly created supernova remnants, and it will begin to slow down.
Thus, there is no need to invent the NS-Creation theory, where a star, all by itself, simultaneously explodes and implodes creating a neutron star pulsar.
There is no need because in the Cen X-3 case we already have a neutron star pulsar that is speeding up, and it will inevitably cause the companion to blow up producing the same result as observed in the Crab Nebula.
i.e. there is no need to invent a mechanism to create a neutron star pulsar during a supernova explosion, because we already have the neutron star pulsar long before the supernova explosion occurs.
This is the fundamental analysis that this web site is intended to explore. We will find additional evidence that Cen X-3 and other X-ray binaries must end up in some kind of supernova explosion, and that there are other properties of supernova explosion pulsars that can only be explained by having the neutron star pulsar before the explosion occurs, which means there is no point trying to invent a mechanism to create a neutron star because, as a result of using NS-Capture Theory, one is already there.