Israeli scientists detect a new type of supernova

i24NEWS

3 min read
A Hubble image of an expanding, gaseous corpse — a supernova remnant — known as 1E 0102.2-7219, January 15, 2021.
HUBBLE / EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / AFPA Hubble image of an expanding, gaseous corpse — a supernova remnant — known as 1E 0102.2-7219, January 15, 2021.

'This is a new piece of the puzzle of how stars explode... a new hint of how they end their lives'

Scientists at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science detected the explosion of a massive Wolf-Rayet star, a supernova that until now was considered impossible. 

This observation, detailed in a study published in the academic journal Nature, considers how this new phenomenon could change what we know about the universe, and how its massive stars will eventually die.

Rachel Bruch, Ph.D. student and candidate at Weizmann Institute of Science, spoke with i24NEWS about the discovery and its importance.

“Stars live and die as we do. In their death, they create these heavier elements that we’re made of, like carbon and oxygen,” Baruch said.

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A supernova is a powerful astronomical explosion that occurs during the last evolutionary stages of a massive star.

The star either collapses into a neutron star or a black hole, or is just completely destroyed.

“What’s so specific about this star, is that it's a very massive star. Wolf-Rayet stars are particularly big and very turbulent,” Baruch continued.

She explained to i24NEWS that turbulent winds push way the “envelope of hydrogen and helium” which usually end up in the core of the supernova, adding that such an explosion “has not been observed until now.”

“This is a new piece of the puzzle of how stars explode, which gives us a new hint of how they end their lives.”

“Some of the questions that we all have is, how are we going to die? How is the sun going to end its life? These types of observations will map out the possible outcomes.”