Artificial Intelligence helps understand supernovae

Artificial Intelligence helps understand supernovae
Artificial Intelligence helps understand supernovae

Scientists at the University of Warwick are using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze supernovae to help reveal how these cosmic explosions occurred.

Their article is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Many stars in the universe will end their lives as white dwarfs, compact stars that contain about the mass of the Sun in the size of the Earth. Some of these white dwarfs will eventually explode as supernovae. The process is highly energetic and results in the creation of heavy elements that are the building blocks of life, such as calcium and iron, which are released back into the universe.

Despite their importance, astronomers still do not know exactly how or why these supernovae occur.

Lead author Dr Mark Magee, from the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick, said in a statement: “When we investigate supernovae, we analyze their spectra. The spectra show the intensity of light at different wavelengths, which It is affected by the elements created in the supernova. Each element interacts with light at unique wavelengths and therefore leaves a unique signature in the spectra.

“Analyzing these signatures can help identify what elements are created in a supernova and provide more details about how supernovae exploded.

“From this data we prepare models, which are compared to real supernovae to establish what type of supernova it is and exactly how it exploded. Typically a model can take between 10 and 90 minutes to generate and we want to compare hundreds or thousands of models to fully understand the supernova. This is not really feasible in many cases.

“Our new research will move away from this long process. We will train machine learning algorithms on what different types of explosions look like and use them to generate models much more quickly. Similar to how we can use AI to generate new illustrations or text “We will now be able to generate supernova simulations. This means we will be able to generate thousands of models in less than a second, which will be a big boost for supernova research.”

In addition to accelerating the supernova analysis process, the use of AI will also allow for greater precision in the investigation. This will help establish which models best match real-life explosions and the range of their physical properties.

Dr Magee added: “Exploring the elements released by supernovae is a crucial step in determining the type of explosion that occurred, as certain types of explosions produce more of some elements than others. “We will be able to relate the properties of the explosion to the properties of the supernova’s host galaxies and establish a direct link between how the explosion occurred and the type of white dwarf that exploded.”

The work now accepted is only the first step. Future research will expand to include an even greater variety of explosions and supernovae, and will directly link the explosion and the properties of the host galaxy. It is only through advances in machine learning that this type of research is now possible.

Dr Thomas Killestein from the University of Turku, who was also involved in the research, added: “With modern studies, we finally have data sets of the size and quality to address some of the key remaining questions in cell science. “supernovae: how exactly they explode. Machine learning approaches like this allow studies of larger numbers of supernovae, in greater detail and with more consistency than previous approaches.”

 
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