Supernovae, the explosions of stars, have been observed in the thousands and in all cases they marked the death of a star. Astronomers at Las Cumbres Observatory have discovered a remarkable exception — a star that exploded multiple times over a period of more than fifty years. Their observations are challenging existing theories on these cosmic catastrophes.
Many rock stars don’t like to play by the rules, and a cosmic one is no exception. A team of astronomers has discovered that an extraordinarily bright supernova occurred in a surprising location. This “heavy metal” supernova discovery challenges current ideas of how and where such super-charged supernovas occur.
Scientists will now be able to measure how fast the universe is truly expanding with the kind of precision not possible before. This, after an international team of astronomers led by Stockholm University, Sweden, captured four distinct images of a gravitationally lensed Type Ia supernova, named iPTF16geu.
“We’re made of star stuff,” astronomer Carl Sagan famously said. Nuclear reactions that happened in ancient stars generated much of the material that makes up our bodies, our planet and our solar system. When stars explode in violent deaths called supernovae, those newly formed elements escape and spread out in the universe.
About 4.6 billion years ago, a cloud of gas and dust that eventually formed our solar system was disturbed. The ensuing gravitational collapse formed the proto-Sun with a surrounding disc where the planets were born. Now, forensic evidence from meteorites provides conclusive evidence that a low-mass supernova was the trigger.