Latest in Science

Image credit: NASA Ames, STScl/G. Bacon

NASA catches the flash of a supernova for the first time

The Kepler space telescope has spotted the initial shockwave of an exploding star.
32 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

NASA Ames, STScl/G. Bacon

Spotting supernovae is relatively easy, but witnessing the immediate aftermath of those exploding stars? That's hard -- however, NASA has managed just that. By using the Kepler space telescope to capture the light of 500 galaxy every 30 minutes for 3 years, the agency caught the flash of a supernova's initial shockwave as a red supergiant (KSN 2011d) met its grisly end. That's no mean feat when this early burst only lasted roughly 20 minutes, and the target star was a whopping 1.2 billion light years away.

The data helps confirm scientists' models for how Type II supernovae (where the star is between 8 and 50 times the size of the Sun) behave, but it also uncovered a surprise or two. The team didn't spot a shockwave in the supernova of a smaller red supergiant, KSN 2011a, suggesting that there's significant variety in how these explosions take place -- the theory is that a gas cloud obscured the blast. Whatever the cause, the findings should help us understand more about the life cycles of stars.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
32 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

WSJ: Comcast's NBCUniversal is in advanced talks to acquire Vudu

WSJ: Comcast's NBCUniversal is in advanced talks to acquire Vudu

View
'Friends' cast is locked in for a reunion special to launch HBO Max

'Friends' cast is locked in for a reunion special to launch HBO Max

View
Google search is showing invitations to private WhatsApp groups

Google search is showing invitations to private WhatsApp groups

View
The Hot Wheels RC Cybertruck is a mini Tesla for $400

The Hot Wheels RC Cybertruck is a mini Tesla for $400

View
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: Admire it, don't buy it

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: Admire it, don't buy it

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr