The bottom of the ocean may not be the first place you’d look for remnants of ancient star explosions. But that’s exactly what scientists have found in patches of ocean sediment in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans: deposits of an iron isotope called iron-60, produced when a star explodes in a supernova.
Combined with supernova modeling, suggests that million of years ago, at least two stars exploded and some of the elemental debris rained down on Earth. Astronomers estimate the first explosion happened about 2.3 million years ago, and the second about 1.5 million years ago. It’s possible the explosions were close to enough to influence the planet in a number of ways.
“One such region, NGC 6357, is a huge nebula that radiates brightly in many different wavelengths. The infrared highlights the warm gas that’s heated by new stars, while the “dark gaps” are where the intense ultraviolet radiation has ionized and evaporated the gas away. The neutral gas also reflects visible light, highlighting its fragmented, filamentary structure.”
Thirty million years ago in a galaxy not so far, far away, a star exploded. Three years ago, light from that explosion finally made it to Earth, where scientists watched the explosion unfold from start to finish.
In a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal researchers analyzed SN 2013ej, a Supernova that was observed in 2013 in the galaxy M74, some 30 million light years away.
The star at the heart of SN 2013ej was huge. Researchers estimate that its radius alone was likely 200 times larger than the Sun, but it wasn’t that dense, with a mass just 15 times greater than our star. It lived large, but only for a short time, eventually exploding with a force to rival the simultaneous explosion of 100 million of our Suns.
“Supernovae have death and birth written all over them,” Kehoe said. “Not only do they create the elements we are made of, but the shockwave that goes out from the explosion—that’s where our solar system comes from.”
Supernovas spread matter throughout the universe. In this case, matter pushed out by the supernova was traveling at a breathtaking 22 million miles per hour, providing building blocks to other nascent solar systems.
Hubble Finds Supernova Companion Star after Two Decades of Searching
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a companion star to a rare type of supernova. The discovery confirms a long-held theory that the supernova, dubbed SN 1993J, occurred inside what is called a binary system, where two interacting stars caused a cosmic explosion.
Marceline the vampire queen today at supernova! (I’ll have my bubblegum too @mintbunny ) Last minute plans whoop whoop I’m so grrrrrr tho bc I can’t get the paint to even out entirely and it looks so odd irl sighs hopefully it’s just something I see and not everybody else
When a star reaches the end of its life and explodes in a
supernova, the explosion leaves behind a patch of hot gas and
high-energy particles called a supernova remnant. Like a crime scene, scientists can study supernova remnants to figure out what caused the star to die.
Telescopes around the world are tracking a bright supernova that occurred in a nearby dusty galaxy. The powerful stellar explosion was first noted earlier this month. The nearby galaxy is the photogenic Centaurus A, visible with binoculars and known for impressive filaments of light-absorbing dust that cross its center. Cen A is featured here in a high-resolution archival Hubble Space Telescope image, with an inset image featuring the supernova taken from the ground only two days after discovery. Designated SN2016adj, the supernova is highlighted with crosshairs in the inset, appearing just to the left of a bright foreground star in our Milky Way Galaxy. This supernova is currently thought to be of Type IIb, a stellar-core-collapse supernova, and is of high interest because it occurred so nearby and because it is being seen through a known dust filament. Current and future observations of this supernova may give us new clues about the fates of massive stars and how some elements found on our Earth were formed.
Some of the rarer elements are generated in the supernova explosion itself. We have relatively abundant gold and uranium on Earth only because many supernova explosions had occurred just before the solar system formed. Other planetary systems may have somewhat different amounts of our rare elements. Are there planets where the inhabitants proudly display pendants of niobium and bracelets of protactinium, while gold is a laboratory curiosity? Would our lives be improved if gold and uranium were as obscure and unimportant on Earth as praseodymium?