Sunday , January 29 2023

Written in the stars: the University of Alberta's astrophysics creates the first 3D model of cosmic crash after a collision


EDMONTON – The astrophysicist at the University of Alberta sees the stars (or at least how they look after the collision) after helping to create the first 3D model of a computer after a collision of neutron stars.

Rodrigo Fernandez, an assistant at the Department of Physics, is at the top of the world after working with a team of United States scientists to write a computer code that uses modeling algorithms. The neutron star is the smallest and densest star, formed when large stars collapse.

"We've developed a code that can describe this collision of neutron stars in the most realistic way up to now," Fernandez said. "It's not perfect, you can add more, but that's at the limit of what we can do today."

The 3D model gives scientists, such as Fernandez, a greater understanding of how heavy elements such as gold and lead form in cosmic collisions.

"(Collision) produces chemical elements that are heavier than iron, such as gold and uranium, which are not the most elemental elements, but need to have the world we know," Fernandez said.

"Being able to describe this more realistically, we have a better understanding of what is happening in these environments where these elements are made," he added.

The level of detail in the 3D model has enabled Fernandez and his team to visualize for the first time gamma radiation (a form of high-energy radiation) of two collisions of neutron stars. The model shows a black hole formed in a center surrounded by a donut-shaped ring, which is known as the acrecice disc.

Previous 2D models failed to explain the phenomenon that arose due to a collision of stars, because collision light was brighter than current models.

The 3D model also includes electromagnetic fields in visualization, providing a more accurate and more realistic picture of how light is formed in star collisions, Fernandez said.

"What we did here with the picture is not a super-duper fancier, but this is a real representation of scientific calculations … this is our best understanding right now for the consequences of the collision to look."

Omar Mosleh is a Edmonton-based journalist who deals with city issues, affordable homes and reconciliation. Follow him on Twitter: @ OmarMosleh

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