The first stage of a supernova – the moment a star explodes catastrophically – has been captured in detail for the first time. Learn about SN2017jgh, the supernova that showed its first light explosion about a billion years ago.
Stars, like our sun, are giant balls of gas that emit radiation. Since the star does not radiate all of the energy released but retains it, the temperature continues to rise to more than a million degrees. At some point, the star gets so hot that it explodes. Punishment? An impressive light spectacle that can shine up to 3 billion times as bright as the sun. However, the beginning of this light spectacle has never been observed as “live” because this phase can only be observed for a few days, which is a very short period of time for detecting and recording space phenomena.
Using data from Kepler, a space telescope operated by NASA, Australian astrophysicists were able to capture the first burst of light from such a supernova. In an article published in the professional magazine Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society They describe the light show as a yellow giant, about 100 times larger than the Sun. They stress the importance of the image, which can help researchers better understand what happens to stars when they “die.”
The supernova, named SN2017jgh, is more than a billion light-years away from Earth. “The light we saw left the star a billion years ago,” lead researcher Patrick Armstrong said.
How rare is such a supernova? Astronomers estimate that one star in each galaxy explodes every 100 years. There are probably about 100 to 200 billion galaxies in our universe. “Depending on the quality of your camera, you can therefore see one supernova per week or even one supernova per day – in the case of the Kepler telescope.”
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