A Supernova is Captured Just After the Explosion

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 - 7:21PM
Astronomy
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 - 7:21PM
A Supernova is Captured Just After the Explosion
NASA
Out in the vastness of space, capturing any sort of cosmic event can take years depending on how far it is from Earth. However, astronomers have detected a star going supernova a mere few hours after the event and for the first time, can begin to measure both the cause and effect of a star exploding.

Using a telescope based in San Diego in junction with a survey system known as the Palomar Transient Factory, researchers were able to observe the supernova, classified as a type 2 supernovaLocated in the NGC7610 galaxy, which is a mere 166 million light years away from Earth and inside the Pegasus constellation, the dying star gave researchers a good amount of new information to consider, as recorded in Nature Physics.

Perhaps most interesting in the research was how the dying star emitted gas before its explosion, which stands in contrast to long held beliefs that the supernova's first activity is actually the explosion itself. This detection was also the earliest researchers were able to see a spectrum, otherwise understood as emitted light broken up by wavelength coming from the supernova itself. All of this help to paint a better picture of just what happens once a star goes supernova.

There appears to be a shockwave, caused by the explosion that passes through the recently emitted gas surrounding the dying star and the wave strips elections from atoms. These electrons later recombine and emit certain new wavelengths of light, which register on the spectra and allow researchers to identify and deduce what is happening.

All of this information has begun leading researchers to change their previous conclusions on what the end of the star's life cycle is really like. Instead of becoming quiet and dormant prior to its explosion, now, it would seem stars are actually showing quite "loud" signs that a supernova is coming as they leak out gas and other materials. 

Still, it's only the very tip of the cosmic proverbial iceberg in understanding what is really happening inside of the star itself, but with continued research, more powerful technology and more good old fashioned luck and timing, further breakthroughs into how stars explode will hopefully follow. 
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