The Sci-Files – 06/21/2020 – Adam Kawash – The Missing Nova in the Milky Way

Chelsie Boodoo and Daniel Puentes

On this week’s The Sci-Files, your hosts Chelsie and Danny interview Adam Kawash. Adam is a Ph.D. candidate in the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Adam Kawash
Adam Kawash

The main research question he is trying to answer is what is the nova rate of the Milky Way? A nova occurs in a double star system when the core of a dead star steals matter from its companion star. If enough matter is accumulated the outside of the dead star can become hot enough for nuclear fusion to occur. This causes an outflow of the accumulated material and the system can increase in brightness by up to a factor of a million. Due to their relative brightness, these events have been found in the Galaxy for centuries by astronomers. However, we still do not have a good idea of how frequently these events occur in the Milky Way. Recently published models predict about 50 novae per year, but even with the emergence of large field surveys in the past couple of decades, we still only find about 10 per year. This mystery of the apparent missing novae is the central topic of his thesis.
MSU ObservatoryMSU Abrams Planetarium and Astronomy on Tap host local astronomy events, during the pandemic they are hosting virtual events.
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