first-photographed-the-last-moments-of-a-supergiant-star-before-its-explosion-–-rb

First photographed the last moments of a supergiant star before its explosion – RB

Photographed for the first time the last moments of a supergiant star before its explosion – RB

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Photograph yourself for the first time the last moments of a supergiant star before its explosion – RB

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Photographed for the first time the last moments of a supergiant star before its explosion – RB

SCIENCE

A revolutionary photograph based on observations of previous moments and mathematical models: a star was photographed for the first time just before its explosion

January 9 2022

The space looks very peaceful, seen from here. Someone can imagine it calm and silent, perhaps with Strauss’s Blue Danube in the background – the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And instead there are many things that happen in space . And many are catastrophic: the crash of an asteroid on a planet, a celestial body sucked into a black hole, a dying star.

And above all, many of these events are not photographable : you want to the distance, you want for other technical reasons. We had never been able to photograph, for example, the last moments of a star before his implosion and subsequent death. Until now .

What happens to a star when it dies

The stars take millions of years to die, and the process begins when they burn all their hydrogen. At that point they expand to become a red giant . After shedding its outer layers, the giant collapses and forms a very dense white dwarf. Over billions of years, the white dwarf cools and becomes invisible.

The very large stars , those with a mass eight times that of our Sun , when they run out of hydrogen they become red supergiants : they try to keep themselves alive, but after burning all the available fuel explode in Type 2 supernova , leaving behind a neutron star or black hole. They are destructive events, which except in rare cases leave no survivors.

In the last 400 years there have been no similar events in the Milky Way, our galaxy, but it happens very often in other nearby galaxies: at least one red supergiant explosion per year.

In the astronomical time that we know, this last phase lasts very little. But it actually lasts for hundreds of thousands to millions of years, and doesn’t warn before starting.

Astronomers often retrace archived images and identify a previous giant star, called progenitor , where there is now a supernova. However these pre-explosion images show nothing to indicate that an explosion was imminent.

shows the death of a star

It was an image that researchers and astronomers have wanted to see for a long, long time: the last moments of a giant star before it collapses into a supernova. They finally succeeded.

And this star in particular, nicknamed SN 2020 tlf and which was already a red supergiant , did not look promising: before the explosion it was very active. And scientists wondered if this behavior was common to all stars and they somehow didn’t understand it, or if this particular star was an anomaly.

And, as we know, the pre-blast phase does not give alarm bells, and it is difficult to identify using parent stars. However, astronomers have detected this supernova in the galaxy NGC 5731 , distant 120 millions of light years from the Milky Way.

Previous images reveal that the progenitor star varied dramatically in brightness from 128 to 51 before the explosion , offering anyone watching a clue to an upcoming explosion.

At such a great distance, the observations couldn’t be very detailed. However, using a combination of light collected before and after the explosion, Northwestern University researcher Wynn Jacobson-Gal├ín was able to shape the last days of the star in detail .

The SN 2020 tlf had a mass between the 10 and the 09 times higher than that of the Sun . Its radius was 1. 100 times larger than the Sun shortly before that exploded – almost the distance between the Sun and Jupiter. According to the researchers, the rapid mass loss and light emissions shortly before the explosion are due to instability of the stellar core , most likely associated with the final stages of nuclear combustion. However, it is not clear why this star should be more unstable than others like it.