AI helps scientists understand cosmic explosions

Scientists at the University of Warwick are using artificial intelligence (AI) to study cosmic explosions known as supernovae.

Many stars in the universe end their lives as white dwarfs – small stars with the mass of the Sun about the size of the Earth. Some of these white dwarfs eventually explode as supernovae. The process is highly energetic and creates heavier elements, the building blocks of life, such as calcium and iron, which are released back into the universe.

Despite their importance, astronomers still don’t know exactly how or why these supernovae occur.

To help further understanding, the new research will use a type of AI known as machine learning to speed up experiments on supernovae – currently too computationally expensive and time-consuming. By comparing explosion models with real-life observations, this will help reveal how these cosmic explosions occurred.

Lead author Dr Mark Magee, from the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics, said: „When we study supernovae, we study their spectra. Spectra show the intensity of light at different wavelengths, which is affected by the elements created in the supernova. Each element interacts with light at a unique wavelength.

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