This time-lapse shows a supernova exploding brighter than five billion suns

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,576   +591
Staff member
Celestial fireworks: Supernovae are arguably one of the most spectacular phenomena in the observable universe. They are not rare, with one happening about once every second. However, it is rare to catch a time-lapse of one in action. Over the last year, the Hubble Space Telescope managed to do just that.

For the last year, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has been trained on what NASA defines as a "Type Ia" supernova 70 million lightyears away. In that time, the HST captured photos as the star's explosion peaked and then faded away. Astronomers strung the images into a fantastic 30-second time-lapse clip showing the death of a star (above).

NASA said that at the peak of the explosion, the star was five billion times brighter than our sun and more luminous than any of the stars in its own galaxy. Below is an animation showing the phases and the expansion of a supernova. NASA notes that matter can be ejected at speeds up to six percent the speed of light.

The star was a white dwarf in a binary system sucking in material from its partner star. The white dwarf eventual reached critical mass, heating its core to the point of igniting a thermonuclear chain reaction.

Since scientists have already determined that Type Ia supernovae peak at the same luminosity, so they can use it to gauge the distance between galaxies accurately. They can then plug the distances in to calculate the rate that the universe is expanding.

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Endymio

Posts: 603   +490
>> " Since scientists have already determined that Type Ia supernovae peak at the same luminosity..."

This isn't true. In actuality, Type Ia supernovas vary widely in luminosity, but that output can easily be corrected to a standard value, which allows us to easily calculate their distance.
 

FF222

Posts: 237   +182
The video is from ESA's channel and is credited as "ESA/Hubble & NASA", yet, you mention and only mention NASA in the article
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 459   +393
Actually it was once thought they peaked at the same absolute brightness but that is not the case and the brightness has an absolute magnitude of -19.5 ± 1.5. The absolute magnitude is the brightness if the star was placed at 10 parsecs from earth. Type 1a supernova are thought to come from carbon-oxygen burning white dwarfs that have accreted material from their binary neighbour and pushed them over the Chandrasekhar limit of ~ 1.4 solar masses.
 

Trillionsin

Posts: 1,878   +462
I know this isnt really "tech" but fascinating nonetheless. I'm glad techspot still allowed it in the articles.
 

Lounds

Posts: 581   +466
What's the chances of a super Nova from a neighboring star taking out our solar system?
 

DefaultD

Posts: 6   +6
What's the chances of a super Nova from a neighboring star taking out our solar system?
Not likely. No stars near enough ready to go supernova. Space is Big! Gamma ray burst as Endymio mentions has more potential, but still chances are so ridiculously slim, it's not worth worrying about.
 
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