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New Type of High-Intensity Cosmic Explosion
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The Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope picked up a whole new type of cosmic explosion: a ultra high-intensity explosion coming from the surface of a white dwarf star. The finding stunned observers and theorists alike because it overturns a long-standing notion that such novae explosions lack the power for such high-energy emissions.
In March, Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) detected gamma rays -- the most energetic form of light -- from the nova for 15 days. Scientists believe that the emission arose as a million-mile-per-hour shock wave raced from the site of the explosion. A nova is a sudden, short-lived brightening of an otherwise inconspicuous star. The outburst occurs when a white dwarf in a binary system erupts in an enormous thermonuclear explosion.
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