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Scientists recently sat in the front row of a cosmic catastrophe – the end of a star’s life cycle. For the first time in the history of mankind, the death of a star (known as a supernova) was witnessed by scientists.
Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of California had special tickets to witness the supernova. After the giant explosion, the star rapidly collapsed in what is officially called a “Type II supernova.”© Provided by Indiatimes Keck Observatory
Capturing a star’s death
Using special imaging equipment at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii, scientists witnessed the cosmic explosion first-hand. They observed the last 130 days of the star’s life-cycle when it quickly collapsed onto itself.
The star in question is situated in the NGC 5731 galaxy – about 120 million light-years away from Earth. For scale, the star was 10 times bigger than our sun at the time of its explosion.
This observation helps scientists understand red supergiants better. Earlier, scientists believed that red supergiants remained dormant before their deaths. But this cosmic explosion proves that even red supergiants die a violent death.
Published in The Astrophysical Journal, the study highlights how stars undergo major changes before they burst into flames and go into a new state. After a supernova exposes the star’s core, it becomes a neutron star. But if a star is big enough to collapse directly, it becomes a black hole in less than a second!
Supernovae are responsible for the constant exchange of elements across space. No element on Earth originated here – all of them brought here through cosmic explosions like this one and collisions over time.
You can watch the footage of the star’s death below and don’t forget to share your thoughts with us in the comments.