Astronomers Watched A Star Explode In Real Time For The First Time Ever

 The first real-time view of a red supergiant star's final moments was provided by ground-based telescopes. They are the largest in terms of volume even though they are neither the brightest nor the most massive stars.

Red supergiant star Betelgeuse is well-known and has become more well-known as a result of its unpredictable fading. Betelgeuse has stayed stable despite predictions that it will go supernova.

However, the star at the centre of this new investigation, which is located in the NGC 5731 galaxy about 120 million light-years from Earth, had 10 times the mass of the sun when it erupted.

Before they pass away in a blaze of glory, some stars explode or release scalding hot layers of gas. Prior to this occurrence, scientists believed that red supergiants were typically silent before exploding into supernovae or crashing into dense neutron stars.

Instead, astronomers observed the star aggressively self-destruct before passing away in a type II supernova. This type of star death happens when a massive star violently collapses and bursts after consuming the hydrogen, helium, and other materials in its core.

Because iron cannot fuse, all that is left is the star's iron, which means the star will eventually run out of energy. When this happens, the iron crumbles, which causes the explosion. These findings were described in an article published in The Astrophysical Journal.

According to main study author Wynn Jacobson-Galán, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, "this represents a breakthrough in our understanding of what huge stars do moments before they die."

"In a typical type II supernova, direct observation of pre-supernova activity in a red supergiant star has never been recorded. We witnessed a red supergiant star exploding for the first time."

One hundred thirty days before the star's supernova explosion, astronomers first noticed the star's peculiar behaviour. Bright radiation was observed in the summer of 2020 using the Pan-STARRS telescope on Haleakala, Maui, operated by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy.

The following fall of that year, the researchers observed a supernova in the same area.

They called it supernova 2020tlf after finding it on Maunakea in Hawaii with the help of the Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer at the W.M. Keck Observatory. According to their research, the bright gas that the star forcibly ejected out over the summer was surrounded by material at the moment of the explosion.

According to senior study author Raffaella Margutti, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Berkeley, "It's like witnessing a ticking time bomb." We have never before observed such dramatic behaviour in a dying red supergiant star when we watch it emit such a bright light before collapsing and combusting.

The finding suggests that some of these massive stars go through severe internal changes that lead to a chaotic gas release right before they die.

Reference(S): Peer-Reviewed Research Paper

Post a Comment