Cosmic explosions

Although the night sky seems to reveal a tranquil Universe, powerful explosions happen in the Universe. The energy source of these explosions is usually either nuclear fusion (for example thermonuclear bursts, or thermonuclear (=Type Ia) supernovae), or it is due to the release of gravitational energy, if an object collapses or matter falls onto a compact object like a black hole (for example active galaxies, core collapse supernovae and gamma-ray bursts).

In a few cases magnetic fields may be responsible for explosions, for example reordering of magnetic fields in the corona of the sun leads to violent eruptions, and, on an even much more powerful scale, the reordering of magnetics fields in highly magnetic neutron stars (magnetars) leads to explosions so powerful, that the ionosphere of the Earth is affected by them.

The range of explosion energy of these explosions span a wide range in energy, from a few 1022 Joule for solar bursts, 1044 Joule for supernova to 1046 Joule for gamma-ray bursts. Active galaxies provide usually a continuous power, which can be as high as 1038 Watt.

People at The Institute are working on the following topics:

Gamma-ray bursts

Magnetic explosions on neutron stars

Radio transients

Supernovae and their remnants

Thermonuclear X-ray bursts