Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | 2017 Jul 31
Many rock stars don’t like to play by the rules, and a cosmic one is no exception. A team of astronomers has discovered that an extraordinarily bright supernova occurred in a surprising location. This “heavy metal” supernova discovery challenges current ideas of how and where such super-charged supernovas occur.
- This optical image from the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) shows the metal-rich spiral galaxy NGC 3191, the host of the closest superluminous supernova to the Earth discovered to date, SN 2017egm. The supernova is visualized by adding a simulated source that matches the measured position, blue color and intensity of this intense cataclysmic event.
Credit: Pan-STARRS/CfA/M. Nicholl et al.
Supernovas are some of the most energetic events in the Universe. When a massive star runs out of fuel, it can collapse onto itself and create a spectacular explosion that briefly outshines an entire galaxy, dispersing vital elements into space.
In the past decade, astronomers have discovered about fifty supernovas, out of the thousands known, that are particularly powerful. These explosions are up to 100 times brighter than other supernovas caused by the collapse of a massive star.
Following the recent discovery of one of these “superluminous supernovas”, a team of astronomers led by Matt Nicholl from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., has uncovered vital clues about where some of these extraordinary objects come from.
Cambridge University’s Gaia Science Alerts team discovered this supernova, dubbed SN 2017egm, on May 23, 2017 with the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite. A team led by Subo Dong of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University used the Nordic Optical Telescope to identify it as a superluminous supernova. ...
The superluminous supernova SN 2017egm in the nearby galaxy NGC 3191:
A metal-rich environment can support a typical SLSN evolution - Matt Nicholl et al
- arXiv.org > astro-ph > arXiv:1706.08517 > 27 Jun 2017 (v1), 27 Jul 2017 (v2)