Picture of the Day

Slice through the interior of a supermassive star

This visualization is a slice through the interior of a supermassive star of 55,500 solar masses along the axis of symmetry. It shows the inner helium core in which nuclear burning is converting helium to oxygen, powering various fluid instabilities (swirling lines). This "snapshot" from a simulation shows one moment a day after the onset of the explosion, when the radius of the outer circle would be slightly larger than that of the orbit of the Earth around the sun. Exploding supermassive stars may be a missing link in our understanding of structure formation in the early universe. Observational evidence reveals that supermassive black holes--millions to billions times more massive than the sun--reside at the center of almost every galaxy, including the ancient bright quasars that existed already when the universe was only a billion years old.

Visit Website | Image credit: Ke-Jung Chen, Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities