Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Double explosion heralds the death of a very massive star

14.06.2007
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 (June 14th). 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 10 days. It was never formally announced to the community, but then he then found a new much brighter explosion in the same place only two years later in 2006, which he proposed as new supernova. Queen’s astronomers Prof. Stephen Smartt and Dr. Andrea Pastorello immediately realised the implications of finding two explosions at the same position on the sky.

They began observing the 2006 supernova (named SN2006jc) with a wide range of large telescopes and analysed Itagaki’s images to show that the two explosions were exactly in 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.

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.

Prof Smartt is funded by a prestigious EURYI fellowship to study the birth and death of stars. He said "The supernova was the explosion of a massive star that had lost its outer atmosphere, probably in a serious 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. "

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 are partners 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.

Julia Maddock | alfa
Further information:
http://www.stfc.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From the cosmos to fusion plasmas, PPPL presents findings at global APS gathering
13.11.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht A two-atom quantum duet
12.11.2018 | Institute for Basic Science

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 Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal

14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>