This stunning snapshot (click for a closer look!) is from a simulation of a core-collapse supernova. Despite having been studied for many decades, the mechanism driving the explosions of core-collapse supernovae is still an area of active research. Extremely complex simulations such as this one represent best efforts to include as many realistic physical processes as is currently computationally feasible. In this study led by Luke Roberts (a NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech at the time), a core-collapse supernova is modeled long-term in fully 3D simulations that include the effects of general relativity, radiation hydrodynamics, and even neutrino physics. The authors use these simulations to examine the evolution of a supernova after its core bounce. To read more about the team’s findings (and see more awesome images from their simulations), check out the paper below!
Luke F. Roberts et al 2016 ApJ 831 98. doi:10.3847/0004-637X/831/1/98