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Astronomers Discover the ‘Biggest Stellar Puzzle’, Bizarre Star that Refuses to Die

The study calculated that the star that exploded was at least 50 times more massive than the Sun and probably much larger.

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This star shines brighter every time it explodes. Read to know more! (representative image) Wikimedia

New York, November 9, 2017 : An international team of astronomers has made a bizarre discovery – a star that refuses to stop shining despite exploding more than once over a period of 50 years.

The explosions of stars, known as supernovae, have been observed in the thousands and in all cases they marked the death of a star.

But a new study, published in the journal Nature, challenges known theories about the death of stars. Their observations included data from Keck Observatory on Maunakea in Hawaii.

“The spectra we obtained at Keck Observatory showed that this supernova looked like nothing we had ever seen before. This, after discovering nearly 5,000 supernovae in the last two decades,” said study co-author Peter Nugent from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US.

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“While the spectra bear a resemblance to normal hydrogen-rich core-collapse supernova explosions, they grew brighter and dimmer at least five times more slowly, stretching an event which normally lasts 100 days to over two years,” Nugent said.

The supernova, named iPTF14hls, was discovered in September 2014 by the Palomar Transient Factory. At the time, it looked like an ordinary supernova.

Several months later, astronomers at Las Cumbres Observatory in the US noticed the supernova was growing brighter again after it had faded.

When astronomers went back and looked at archival data, they were astonished to find evidence of an explosion in 1954 at the same location.

This star somehow survived that explosion and exploded again in 2014.

“This supernova breaks everything we thought we knew about how they work. It’s the biggest puzzle I’ve encountered in almost a decade of studying stellar explosions,” said lead author Iair Arcavi, a NASA Einstein postdoctoral fellow at LCO and the University of California Santa Barbara.

The study calculated that the star that exploded was at least 50 times more massive than the Sun and probably much larger.

Supernova iPTF14hls may have been the most massive stellar explosion ever seen. The size of this explosion could be the reason that conventional understanding of the death of stars failed to explain this event.

Astronomers continue to monitor the supernova, which remains bright three years after it was discovered. (IANS)

 

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Astronomers Use Massive Cluster of Galaxies as X-Ray Magnifying Glass to Spot Tiny Dwarf Galaxy

What they detected appears to be a blue speck of an infant galaxy, about 1/10,000 the size of our Milky Way, in the midst of churning out

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Astronomers, Galaxies, X-Ray
While galaxy clusters have been used to magnify objects at optical wavelengths, this is the first time scientists have leveraged these massive gravitational giants to zoom in on extreme, distant, X-ray-emitting phenomena. Pixabay

Using a massive cluster of galaxies as an X-ray magnifying glass, astronomers have spotted a tiny dwarf galaxy in the first, super-energetic stages of star formation.

The new lens technique allowed the astronomers to peer back in time, to nearly 9.4 billion years ago.

While galaxy clusters have been used to magnify objects at optical wavelengths, this is the first time scientists have leveraged these massive gravitational giants to zoom in on extreme, distant, X-ray-emitting phenomena.

What they detected appears to be a blue speck of an infant galaxy, about 1/10,000 the size of our Milky Way, in the midst of churning out its first stars — supermassive, cosmically short-lived objects that emit high-energy X-rays, which the researchers detected in the form of a bright blue arc.

Astronomers, Galaxies, X-Ray
The new lens technique allowed the astronomers to peer back in time, to nearly 9.4 billion years ago. Pixabay

“It’s this little blue smudge, meaning it’s a very small galaxy that contains a lot of super-hot, very massive young stars that formed recently,” said Matthew Bayliss, a research scientist in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

“This galaxy is similar to the very first galaxies that formed in the universe … the kind of which no one has ever seen in X-ray in the distant universe before.”

The detection of this single, distant galaxy is proof that scientists can use galaxy clusters as natural X-ray magnifiers, to pick out extreme, highly energetic phenomena in the universe’s early history, Bayliss said.

“With this technique, we could, in the future, zoom in on a distant galaxy and age-date different parts of it — to say, this part has stars that formed 200 million years ago, versus another part that formed 50 million years ago, and pick them apart in a way you cannot otherwise do,” said Bayliss.

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The findings have been published in the journal Nature Astronomy. (IANS)