Washington, August 13 (ANI): A new study has determined that type 1a supernovae will have to be taken into account if astronomers are to use them for more precise measurements of cosmic distances and dark energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.
The discovery of dark energy, a mysterious force that is accelerating the expansion of the universe, was based on observations of type 1a supernovae.
But, in order to probe the nature of dark energy and determine if it is constant or variable over time, scientists will have to measure cosmic distances with much greater precision than they have in the past."As we begin the next generation of cosmology experiments, we will want to use type 1a supernovae as very sensitive measures of distance," said lead author Daniel Kasen, a Hubble postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
"We know they are not all the same brightness, and we have ways of correcting for that, but we need to know if there are systematic differences that would bias the distance measurements. So this study explored what causes those differences in brightness," he added.
Kasen and his coauthors - Fritz Ropke of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany, and Stan Woosley, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz - used supercomputers to run dozens of simulations of type 1a supernovae.
The results indicate that much of the diversity observed in these supernovae is due to the chaotic nature of the processes involved and the resulting asymmetry of the explosions.For the most part, this variability would not produce systematic errors in measurement studies as long as researchers use large numbers of observations and apply the standard corrections, according to Kasen.
The study did find a small but potentially worrisome effect that could result from systematic differences in the chemical compositions of stars at different times in the history of the universe.
But, researchers can use the computer models to further characterize this effect and develop corrections for it."Since we are beginning to understand how type 1a supernovae work from first principles, these models can be used to refine our distance estimates and make measurements of the expansion rate of the universe more precise," Woosley said. (ANI)