Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Double explosion challenges theories of ways stars live and die

15.06.2007
A unique discovery of two celestial explosions at exactly the same position in the sky has led astronomers to suggest they have witnessed the death of one of the most massive stars that can exist.

A global collaboration of astronomers led by Queen's University Belfast, teamed up with Japanese supernova hunter, Koichi Itagaki, to report an amazing new discovery in 'Nature' this week (14 June). This is the first time such a double explosion has been observed and challenges our understanding of star-deaths.

In 2004, Koichi Itagaki discovered an exploding star in the galaxy UGC4904 (78 million light years away in the Lynx constellation), which rapidly faded from view in the space of ten days. Never formally announced to the community, Itagaki then found a new, much brighter explosion in the same place only two years later, which he proposed as new supernova. Queen's astronomers Professor Stephen Smartt and Doctor Andrea Pastorello, who are based in the Astrophysics Research Centre at the University, immediately realised the implications of finding two explosions at the same position on the sky.

The astronomers began observing the 2006 supernova (named SN2006jc) with a wide range of large telescopes and analysed Itagaki's images to show the two explosions were in exactly the same place. The most likely explanation for the 2004 explosion was probably an outburst of a very massive star like Eta-Carinae, which was observed to have a similar giant outburst in the 1850s. The 2006 supernova was the final death of the same star.

Professor Smartt is funded by a prestigious EURYI fellowship to study the birth and death of stars. Speaking about the discovery, he said "The supernova was the explosion of a massive star that had lost its outer atmosphere, probably in a series of minor explosions like the one Koichi found in 2004. The star was so massive it probably formed a black hole as it collapsed. This is the first time two explosions of the same star have been found, and it challenges our theories of the way stars live and die. "

Dr. Pastorello said "We knew the 2004 explosion could be a giant outburst of very massive star, and we know that only the most massive stars can produce this type of outburst. So the 2006 supernova must have been the death of the same star, possibly a star 50 to 100 times more massive than the Sun. And it turns out that SN2006jc is a very weird supernova - unusually rich in the chemical element helium which supports our idea of a massive star outburst then death."

Dr. Pastorello used UK telescopes on La Palma (the Liverpool Telescope, and William Herschel Telescope), in a combined European and Asian effort to monitor the energetics of SN2006jc. He showed that the exploding star must have been a Wolf-Rayet star, which are the carbon-oxygen remains of originally very high mass stars.

Although this is the first time two such explosions have been found to be coincident, they could be more frequent than currently thought. The future Pan-STARRS project, a new telescope with the world's largest digital camera which can survey the whole sky once a week could search for these peculiar supernovae. Queen's is a partner in the Pan-STARRS science team and hope to use it to understand how the most massive stars in the Universe die.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council funds UK research in astronomy and access to telescopes such as the William Herschel Telescope.

Lisa Mitchell | alfa
Further information:
http://www.qub.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology

nachricht Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect
24.05.2017 | University of Cologne

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>