Home > Agencies & Organisations, Astronomy, Astrophysics, General Astronomy, NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration), Supernovae > Lopsided Star Explosion Holds The Key To Other Supernova Mysteries

Lopsided Star Explosion Holds The Key To Other Supernova Mysteries


Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

New observations of a recently exploded star are confirming supercomputer model predictions made at Caltech that the deaths of stellar giants are lopsided affairs in which debris and the stars’ cores hurtle off in opposite directions.

While observing the remnant of supernova (SN) 1987A, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, recently detected the unique energy signature of titanium-44, a radioactive version of titanium that is produced during the early stages of a particular type of star explosion, called a Type II, or core-collapse supernova.

“Titanium-44 is unstable. When it decays and turns into calcium, it emits gamma rays at a specific energy, which NuSTAR can detect,” says Fiona Harrison, the Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics at Caltech, and NuSTAR’s principal investigator.

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