Star formation is a topic astronomers are still trying to fully understand. We know, for example, that stars don’t form individually, but rather are born within vast interstellar molecular clouds. These stellar nurseries contain gas dense enough for gravity to trigger the formation of stars. In spiral galaxies, these molecular clouds are most commonly found within spiral arms, which is why stars are most often born in spiral arms.Continue reading “Astronomers Find a Giant Cavity in Space, Hollowed out by an Ancient Supernova”
In April 2021 Hubble released its 31st-anniversary image. It’s a portrait of AG Carinae, one of the most luminous stars in the entire Milky Way. AG Carinae is in a reckless struggle with itself, periodically ejecting matter until it reaches stability sometime in the future.
Thanks to the Hubble, we get to watch the brilliant struggle.Continue reading “Hubble Reveals the Final Stages of a Dying Star”
In this series we are exploring the weird and wonderful world of astronomy jargon! If only there was a way to measure the distance to today’s topic: standard candles!Continue reading “Astronomy Jargon 101: Standard Candles”
In this series we are exploring the weird and wonderful world of astronomy jargon! You’ll quickly see what we’re talking about this week: r-process!Continue reading “Astronomy Jargon 101: R-Process”
When the poet Horace said “We are but dust and shadow”, he probably didn’t think that dust itself could create a shadow. But it can, and that shadow can obscure even some of the most powerful explosions in the universe. At least that’s the finding from new research from an international team using data from the recently retired Spitzer telescope. It turns out dust in far away galaxies can obscure supernovas.Continue reading “It Turns out There Were Supernovae Exploding all Over, we Just Couldn’t see Them”
Astronomers have spotted the remnant of a rare type of supernova explosion. It’s called a Type Iax supernova, and it’s the result of an exploding white dwarf. These are relatively rare supernovae, and astronomers think they’re responsible for creating many heavy elements.
They’ve found them in other galaxies before, but this is the first time they’ve spotted one in the Milky Way.Continue reading “A New Supernova Remnant Found from an Exploding White Dwarf Star”
Our galaxy hosts supernovae explosions a few times every century, and yet it’s been hundreds of years since the last observable one. New research explains why: it’s a combination of dust, distance, and dumb luck.Continue reading “There Should be a few Supernovae in the Milky Way Every Century, but we’ve Only Seen 5 in the Last 1000 Years. Why?”
When stars reach the end of their lifespan, they undergo gravitational collapse at their cores. The type of explosion that results is one of the most awesome astronomical events imaginable and (on rare occasions) can even be seen with the naked eye. The last time this occurred was in 1604 when a Type Ia supernova took place over 20,000 light-years away – commonly-known as Kepler’s Supernova (aka. SN1604)
Given the massive amounts of radiation they release, past supernovae are believed to have played a role in the evolution of our planet and terrestrial life. According to new research by CU Boulder geoscientist Robert Brakenridge, these same supernovae may have left traces in our planet’s biology and geology. These findings could have implications given fears that Betelgeuse might be on the verge of going supernova.Continue reading “Past Supernovae Could be Written Into Tree Rings”
A team of researchers has discovered a complex network of filamentary structures in the Milky Way. The structures are made of atomic hydrogen gas. And we all know that stars are made mostly of hydrogen gas.
Not only is all that hydrogen potential future star-stuff, the team found that its filamentary structure is also a historical imprint of some of the goings-on in the Milky Way.Continue reading “Astronomers Map Out the Raw Material for New Star Formation in the Milky Way”
The answers to many questions in astronomy are hidden behind the veil of deep time. One of those questions is around the role that supernovae played in the early Universe. It was the job of early supernovae to forge the heavier elements that were not forged in the Big Bang. How did that process play out? How did those early stellar explosions play out?
A trio of researchers turned to a supercomputer simulation to find some answers.Continue reading “Supercomputer Simulation Shows a Supernova 300 Days After it Explodes”