We see many spectacular panoramas in space as our telescopes get more powerful, but there’s a new contender for the most exciting of all time: According to researchers, first time we observed a red supergiant star. explode into a supernova.
Supernova (SN) 2020TLF, to give-it its technical name, was observed for 130 days leading to gigantic explosion, the result of demise of a star about 120 million light years away from Earth in the galaxy NGC 5731 & about 10x more massive than our Sun.
The team says that unprecedented look-at one of most fascinating & Large-scale events in the Universe show that there isn’t always a “calm before the storm” in terms of supernova explosions, something that challenges previous assumptions.
“This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do moments before they die,” said Wynn Jacobson Galán, astronomer at the University of California at Berkeley and lead author of the study.
“Direct detection of pre supernova activity in a red supergiant star has never been observed before in a normal Type II supernova. For the first time, we saw a red supergiant star explode!
Supernovae occur when massive stars die or run out of fuel & collapse-in on themselves, no longer to-keep the forces of gravity & nuclear reactions. A gigantic super bright explosion follows the collapse, sending shock waves into space & usually leaving a dense core surrounded by a cloud of gas called a nebula.
However, this dramatic process has never been seen in real time before. 2 telescopes were involved in making observations, both-on Hawaii: the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy Pan STARRS on Haleakalā, Maui, & the WM Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii Island.
The data collected is already providing new information. There was direct evidence of dense circumstellar material surrounding the star when it exploded, for Ex, which researchers believe to be the same gas they had identified being ejected from red supergiant for several months before.
“It’s like looking at a time bomb,” says astrophysicist Raffaella Margutti, also from UC Berkeley. “We have never confirmed such violent activity in a dying red supergiant star where we see it produce such a luminous-emission, then collapse & combust, until now.
Based on the observations, it appears that at least some red supergiants undergo significant internal changes before transforming into supernovas – possibly instabilities related to the final stages of nuclear fuel combustion – creating the violent eruptions & luminosity. observed in this case.
The high level of radiated light first alerted astronomers to this particular star. The supernova was also monitored after the explosion, for an additional 300 days, giving astronomers even more data to work on.
The sightings were made as part of the Young Supernova Experiment, an ongoing project that attempts to find stellar explosions in the night sky in their early stages. With new information now available to them, it should be easier to spot supernova events before they occur.
“I am very excited by all of the unknown new that has been unlocked by this discovery,” says Jacobson Galán. “Detecting more events like SN 2020tlf will have a dramatic impact on how we define the final months of stellar evolution, uniting observers & theorists in quest to solve the mystery of how massive stars spend the last moments of their life.