Astronomers capture activity before, during and after a nova explosion
Over the decades, astronomers have on occasion observed exploding of white dwarf stars also known as classical nova, but capturing the moments leading up to the dramatic events has proven difficult.
In 2009, the luck of a team of scientists with the Warsaw University Observatory changed, as a star that had been tracked for years finally exploded, notes WIRED.
Through a review of long-term observations gathered by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, they were able to learn how the blasts are set in motion and what happens after.
For some time, it has been understood that that the incidents occur in binary systems and involve the white dwarf pulling gas from its star mate until it overloads and ignites.
The team added to that knowledge by determining the pre-explosion transfer was both sparse and unstable, reports the BBC.
In post–explosion observations the rate of matter being passed appeared to speed up and stabilize significantly.
It's believed the white dwarf and its companion star will one day fall back into a disastrous relationship pattern, but that likely won't happen for a million or so years.