NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures 11 billion-year-old supernova in the early universe


Astronomers have been closely studying a supernova that happened about 11.5 billion years ago, when a distant star, about 530 times larger than our sun, perished in a violent explosion that ejected its outer layers of gas into the surrounding universe.

Scientists reported that NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope had taken three images in eight days, just hours after the blast began. This is an impressive feat considering how long ago and far away the explosion happened.

These images provided the first detailed view of a supernova this early in the history of the universe, when it was less than a fifth of its current age, and the first view of a supernova rapidly cooling after its initial explosion in a single sequence of images .

“The supernova expands and cools, so the color evolves from warm blue to cool red,” said Patrick Kelly, an astronomy professor at the University of Minnesota.
Located in a dwarf galaxy, the doomed star exploded as a red supergiant at the end of its relatively short lifespan.

See also  ISRO's reusable missiles will save costs, be more environmentally friendly

“Red supergiants are bright, massive and large stars, but they are much cooler than most other massive stars — that’s why they’re red,” Chen said. “After a red supergiant exhausts the fusion energy in its core, a nuclear collapse will occur and the supernova explosion will blow away the outer layers of the star – the hydrogen envelope.”

Six hours after the original eruption, the first photo shows that the explosion was initially small but very hot, reaching temperatures of nearly 99,725 degrees Celsius.

The second photo was taken about two days later and the third about six days later. These two images show the expansion of the gaseous material ejected from the star. In the second photo, the intensity of the explosion has been reduced by a factor of five. The third picture shows temperatures one-tenth higher than the first.

See also  Nothing Ear 2 TWS earbuds leaked renders hint at semi-transparent design

According to Chen, the remnant of the exploding star is likely a neutron star due to its extreme density.

Hubble was able to capture three images of the explosion’s aftermath at different times thanks to a phenomenon known as strong gravitational lensing. A cluster of galaxies in front of the exploding star, as seen from Earth, generated gravitational forces so strong that they acted like a lens, bending and amplifying the supernova’s light.

READ ALSO: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope discovers early galaxies that Hubble missed

“Gravity in the cluster of galaxies not only bends the light from behind it, but also slows down the time of light travel, because the stronger the gravity, the slower a clock moves,” Chen said. “In other words, the emission of light from a single source behind the lens can travel to us through multiple paths, and we then see multiple images from the source.”

See also  AWS invests $4 billion to build data center cluster in Hyderabad by 2030

Thanks to gravitational lensing, Kelly was able to see the rapidly cooling supernova in a single sequence of images and called it “just absolutely amazing.”

“It’s like watching a color film roll of the supernova evolve, and it’s a much more detailed view of every known supernova that existed when the universe was a small fraction of its current age,” explains Kelly.

“The only other examples where we’ve caught a supernova very early are very close explosions,” Kelly added. “When astronomers see more distant objects, they look back in time.”

(With input from Reuters)



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here