Deep inside a dying star in a galaxy far, far away, a carbon fusion flame ignites. Ignition may happen in the middle or displaced slightly to one side, but this simulation explores the consequences of central ignition. In a localized hot spot, represented here by a deformed sphere with an average radius of 100 km, carbon is assumed to have already fused to iron, producing hot ash (~ten billion K) with a density about 20% less than its surroundings. As the burning progresses, this hot buoyant ash rises up and interacts with cold fuel. Rayleigh-Taylor fingers give rise to shear and turbulence, which act back on the flame, causing it to move faster. In about two seconds, the energy released blows the entire white dwarf star up, leaving nothing behind but a rapidly expanding cloud of radioactive nickel, iron, and other heavy elements. A Type Ia supernova is born.
Hank Childs and colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 2009