Scientists captured the explosion of a unique supernova LSQ14fmg

Scientists captured the explosion of a unique supernova LSQ14fmg
SN LSQ14fmg exploded in SDSS J221646.15+152114.2, a star-forming galaxy 100 million light-years away. Image credit: Hsiao et al, doi: 10.3847/1538-4357/abaf4c.

A supernova called LSQ14fmg is located 100 million light-years from our planet and was discovered by scientists from Florida State University.

A supernova called LSQ14fmg is located 100 million light-years from our planet and was discovered by scientists from Florida State University. It was classified as the so-called Type Ia.

Stars go through a certain life cycle, and this type of star is the result of a white dwarf explosion. These explosions are so powerful that they are shaping the evolution of galaxies, and so bright that we can see them from Earth, even if they are 100 million light-years away.

The characteristics of an open supernova are that its brightness will rise very slowly, as well as the fact that it is one of the brightest in its class and is unlike any others. The star was discovered using telescopes in South America and Europe. Scientists managed to establish that the supernova caused the surrounding space material to emit strong radiation: this indicates the radioactive decay of nickel and the formation of carbon monoxide.

A snapshot of the Blue Snowball planetary nebula taken by the Florida State University Observatory
A snapshot of the Blue Snowball planetary nebula taken by the Florida State University Observatory. Supernova LSQ14fmg exploded in a system similar to this – with a large loss of mass from the central star. When the loss of mass suddenly stopped, a ring of stellar material formed around the star.

Scientists assume that they saw the explosion of a star of the so-called Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB, the period of stellar evolution through which all-stars of the medium and low mass pass at the end of their life path), turning into a planetary nebula.

According to astronomers, the explosion occurred from the merger of the core of the giant AGB and the white dwarf that revolved around it. The main star lost quite a lot of mass due to the stellar wind, but then the loss of mass suddenly stopped and a ring was formed from the stellar matter, which is often observed in planetary nebulae. As a result of the collision of the supernova shock wave with the ring, the brightness began to increase slowly.

Thus, for the first time, scientists have received convincing evidence that a Type Ia supernova can explode in a system of giant stars that are on the way to transform into planetary nebulae. And this is an important step in understanding the origin of this type of supernova – before that, scientists knew little about them, except that they are the result of the explosion of white dwarfs. The study of these objects will also help to improve understanding of the nature of dark matter because supernovae Ia are an important tool for studying it.

The study is published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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