Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Astronomers See Supernova Shockwave for First Time

The shockwave generated by the explosion of an ageing giant star has been observed by an international team of astronomers.

The discovery, accepted for publishing in the Astrophysical Journal, will help scientists understand the life cycle of stars, said study co-author Brad Tucker of the Australian National University.

The team of scientists observed the earliest moments of two old stars exploding using the Kepler Space Telescope.

They spotted the shockwave around the smaller of the two stars — a red supergiant over 270 times the radius of the Sun and 750 million light years away.



An animation of a dying star exploding into a supernova.
Credit: NASA Ames, STScI/G. Bacon

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