Archived AstroTours

Seeding the Elements and Measuring the Universe: The Supernova Mystery at the Heart of Astrophysics

By Chris Ni on 01 December, 2022

Type Ia Supernovae are the thermonuclear explosions of dead stars known as White Dwarfs. The elements in the Universe are evolving steadily towards iron in a process that is largely driven by Type Ia Supernovae. These supernovae are also used to measure the distances to faraway galaxies, a technique that has lead to the discovery of the Universe's accelerated expansion and dark energy. Thus, the ongoing mystery of how White Dwarfs explode as Type Ia Supernovae is one that underpins much of modern astrophysics. I am going to discuss what we know so far about the origins of Type Ia Supernovae and how the continuous monitoring of nearby galaxies by a networks of telescopes in the Southern hemisphere is shedding new light on Type Ia Supernova explosion mechanisms.

About Chris Ni


Chris Ni is a PhD candidate in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. He hunts for the earliest signals heralding the birth of supernovae, from just a few hours to days after their explosion, in order to study their natal mechanisms. Chris received his Honors Bachelors of Science specializing in astrophysics from the University of Toronto. Aside from research, Chris often sets up his telescope on sidewalks around the city in order to share his enthusiasm for astronomy. Chris was featured in the Toronto Star in 2014 as one of the 5-person Canadian national team that won the International Olympiad for Astronomy and Astrophysics Team Competition in Romania.