News

Supernova ejected from the pages of history

18 August 2016 Astronomy Now

A new look at the debris from an exploded star in our galaxy has astronomers re-examining when the supernova actually happened. Recent observations of the supernova remnant called G11.2-0.3 with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have stripped away its connection to an event recorded by the Chinese in 386 CE.

Picture This

Hubble views supernova shrapnel

15 August 2016 Astronomy Now

Several thousand years ago, a star some 160,000 light-years away from us exploded, scattering stellar shrapnel across the sky. The aftermath of this Type Ia supernova is shown here in this striking image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The exploding star was a white dwarf located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a close neighbouring galaxy.

News

Radioactive fuel boosts supernovae explosions

22 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Some supernovae have a reserve tank of radioactive cobalt-57 fuel that cuts in and powers their explosions for three times longer than astronomers had previously thought. The discovery by Australian and US researchers gives important new clues about the causes of Type Ia supernovae, which astronomers use to measure vast distances across the universe.

News

Small metal-deficient galaxy could shed new light on Big Bang

13 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers recently found that a galaxy about 30 million light-years away nicknamed Leoncino, or “little lion,” contains the lowest level of heavy chemical elements, or “metals,” ever observed in a gravitationally bound system of stars. The elemental make-up of metal-poor galaxies is very close to that of the early universe.

News

Trigger for Milky Way’s youngest supernova identified

31 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the VLA to determine the likely trigger for the most recent supernova in the Milky Way. They applied a new technique that could have implications for understanding other Type Ia supernovae, a class of stellar explosions that scientists use to determine the expansion rate of the universe.

News

Astronomers glimpse supernova shockwave for the first time

22 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have captured the earliest minutes of two exploding stars and for the first time seen a shockwave generated by a star’s collapsing core. The international team found a shockwave only in the smaller supernova — a finding that will help them understand these complex explosions that create many of the elements that make up the Earth and solar system.

News

LIGO’s twin black holes might have been born inside a single star

24 February 2016 Astronomy Now

On 14 September 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes 29 and 36 times the mass of the Sun. New research suggests that the two black holes might have resided inside a single, massive star whose death generated a gamma-ray burst detected by the Fermi Space Telescope.

News

Happy Hour on Comet Lovejoy

24 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing as much ethyl alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second as well as a type of sugar into space during its peak activity, according to new observations by an international team. The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life.

News

Shocks in a distant gamma-ray burst

15 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Gamma ray bursts (GRBs) — flashes of high-energy light occurring about once a day, randomly, from around the sky — are the brightest events in the known universe. While a burst is underway, it is many millions of times brighter than an entire galaxy. Astronomers are anxious to decipher their nature as their tremendous brightness opens windows into the young universe.