Hubble Solves Mystery of Supernova Source


Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, SAO, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Hughes (Rutgers University)

Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, SAO, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Hughes (Rutgers University)

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have solved a longstanding mystery on the type of star, or so-called progenitor, which caused a supernova seen in a nearby galaxy. The finding yields new observational data for pinpointing one of several scenarios that trigger such outbursts.

Based on previous observations from ground-based telescopes, astronomers knew the supernova class, called a Type Ia, created a remnant named SNR 0509-67.5, which lies 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy.

Theoretically, this kind of supernova explosion is caused by a star spilling material onto a white dwarf companion, the compact remnant of a normal star, until it sets off one of the most powerful explosions in the universe.

Astronomers failed to find any remnant of the companion star, however, and concluded that the common scenario did not apply in this case, although it is still a viable theory for other Type Ia supernovae.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/supernova-source.html

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