Supernovae are the swan song of giant stars. These cosmic cataclysms are tremendous explosions lasting a few weeks and bright enough to outshine entire galaxies. But the light and heat that astronomers see with telescopes is make up only about one percent of what's happening. Mostly they produce a deluge of neutrinos, the small, ghostly particles that barely interact with normal matter. This week on the Physics CentralPodcast, how neutrinos are key to unlocking the secrets of these interstellar explosions.
|An artist's rendering of a supernova.|
Being able to catch a supernova in action would yield a tremendous amount of scientific data. Physicist Kate Scholberg is eagerly waiting for the next supernova near enough to Earth that we can detect its neutrino signature. She helps run the Supernova Early Warning System, a collaboration of neutrino experiments around the world that are constantly on the lookout for the tell-tale signals.
|The Daya Bay neutrino detector which recently joined the SNEWS collaboration.|
Credit: Department of Energy
|One of Ott's simulated supernovas.|