Giant Red Star 10 Times Bigger than Our Sun Has Died and Scientists Witnessed it

Giant Red Star 10 Times Bigger than Our Sun Has Died and Scientists Witnessed it


On September 16, 2020, teams of astronomers around the world were alerted about the detection of a sudden light coming from a red supergiant star, which was 120 million light-year away from Earth. The light – which originated from the final explosion of the star – however, had reached around 10 days ago. Observatories around the world and in space were alerted and astronomers began, for the first time, watching a red supergiant star, which had 10 times the mass of the Sun, die. There were multiple theories of what such stars do in their final moments. It was a rare feat to check if those notions were true.

According to the astronomers, in its final days, the red supergiant star had bloated to such an extent that if the Sun were to be bloated as much, it would reach Jupiter’s orbit. At this time, significant internal changes were happening inside the star. Presumably, the star had depleted all its fuel supply. And a massive trigger, such as sudden flashes of neon and oxygen fusion, or a silicon flash in the final stage of a star’s fusion, generated strong gravitational waves, causing the star’s final explosion. After the blinding supermassive explosion that accompanies a tumultuous ejection of gas, the star collapses, owing to its own gravity, into a really dense and small object, either a black hole or a neutron star.

“This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do moments before they die,” says Wynn Jacobson-Galán, lead author of the study, in a statement. According to him, direct detection of a star that is soon to be a supernova – after exploding – has never been done before for a red giant star, which would become a Supernova II.

Before astronomers watched the explosion, it was believed that red supergiants typically underwent a much quieter collapse, a notion that has been blown away now. The supernova rests in a faraway galaxy called NGC 5731. The explosion can be seen in an artistic rendition of the violent event using data from the observations. The study was published on January 6 in The Astrophysical Journal.

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