Astronomers have discovered a new kind of supernova, a star explosion so weak that scientists dubbed it a miniature stellar blast.
Supernovas represent the deaths of stars, which collapse in powerful explosions. They generally are classified into two main types; the new class, called Type Iax, "is essentially a mini-supernova," said lead researcher Ryan Foley, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "It's the runt of the supernova litter."
This artist's conception shows the suspected progenitor of a new kind of mini supernova called Type Iax. Material from a hot, blue helium star at right is funneling toward a carbon/oxygen white dwarf star at left, which is embedded in an accretion disk. In many cases the white dwarf survives the subsequent explosion. Image released March 26, 2013. CREDIT: Christine Pulliam (CfA)