What happens when you slam a neutron star (or black hole, take your pick) into a companion star? A supernova, that’s what. And for the first time ever, astronomers think they’ve spotted one.Continue reading “A Black Hole or Neutron Star Fell Into Another Star and Triggered a Supernova”
It is hard for humans to wrap their heads around the fact that there are galaxies so far away that the light coming from them can be warped in a way that they actually experience a type of time delay. But that is exactly what is happening with extreme forms of gravitational lensing, such as those that give us the beautiful images of Einstein rings. In fact, the time dilation around some of these galaxies can be so extreme that the light from a single event, such as a supernova, can actually show up on Earth at dramatically different times. That is exactly what a team led by Dr. Steven Rodney at the University of South Carolina and Dr. Gabriel Brammer of the University of Copenhagen has found. Except three copies of this supernova have already appeared – and the team thinks it will show up again one more time, 20 years from now.Continue reading “Astronomers saw the Same Supernova Three Times Thanks to Gravitational Lensing. And in Twenty Years They Think They’ll see it one More Time”
In 1181 CE, Chinese and Japanese astronomers noticed a “guest star” as bright as Saturn briefly appearing in their night sky. In the thousand years since, astronomers have not been able to pinpoint the origins of that event. New observations have revealed that the “guest star” was a supernova, and a strange one at that. It was a supernova that did not destroy the star, but left behind a zombie that is still shining.Continue reading “Supernova Observed by Astronomers in 1181 Could Have Been a Rare Type 1ax That Leaves Behind a “Zombie Star” Remnant”
A Japanese oil exploration company recently dug up some samples from the Pacific Ocean floor and donated them to researchers. Those researchers, led by Dr. Anton Wallner at the Australian National University, then found the first ever evidence of a plutonium radioactive isotope that originally came from outer space. Now scientists are trying to understand what could have created that isotope, and another intriguing extraterrestrial one, and what that might have meant for Earth’s cosmic neighborhood a few million years ago.Continue reading “Shrapnel From Relatively Recent Supernovae Found in the Earth’s Crust”
If you’re a fan of titanium, you should head to the nearest supernova. You’ll get more than enough of it. And its presence can help astronomers understand how supernovae work.Continue reading “Exploding Stars are Titanium Factories”
Computer models are continuing to play an increasing role in scientific discovery. Everything from the first moments after the Big Bang to potential for life to form on other planets has been the target of some sort of computer model. Now scientists from the RIKEN Astrophysical Big Bang Laboratory are turning this almost ubiquitous tool to a very violent event – Type Ia supernovae. Their work has now resulted in a more nuanced understanding of the effects of these important events.Continue reading “The Debris Cloud From a Supernova Shows an Imprint of the Actual Explosion”
A new process highlights an innovative way to get old glass plates online… and turned up a potential extra-galactic discovery over a century old.
You never know what new discoveries might be hiding in old astronomical observations. For almost a hundred years starting in the late 19th century, emulsion-coated dry glass plate photography was the standard of choice used by large astronomical observatories and surveys for documenting and imaging the sky. These large enormous glass plate collections are still out there around the world, filed away in observatory libraries and university archives. Now, a new project shows how we might bring the stories told on these old plates back to light.Continue reading “Low-Cost Approach to Scanning Historic Glass Plates Yields an Astronomical Surprise”
Say hello to NGC 6946, otherwise known as the Fireworks Galaxy. This little galaxy is the most prolific producer of supernovae in the known universe, popping off those incredible explosions roughly once a decade. It’s secret? An incredibly high rate of star formation.Continue reading “This is the Fireworks Galaxy. It’s had ten Supernovae in the Last Century Alone”
When giant stars die in impressive supernova blasts, about 99% of the energy released goes into producing a flood of neutrinos. These tiny, ghostly particles slip through tons of matter like it’s not even there. But a new generation of detectors will be able to catch them, telling us of the inner machinations of the deaths of stars.Continue reading “Astronomers are ready and waiting to detect the neutrino blast from a nearby supernova explosion like Betelgeuse”
In its 4.5 billion year history, Earth has had to run the gauntlet. Numerous catastrophes have imperilled the planet, from massive impacts, to volcanic conflagrations, to frigid episodes of snowball Earth. Yet life persists.
Among all of the hazards that threaten a planet, the most potentially calamitous might be a nearby star exploding as a supernova.Continue reading “A Supernova Exploded Dangerously Close to Earth 2.5 Million Years Ago”