Astronomers have witnessed the death of a red supergiant star for the first time

Astronomers have captured the death of a red supergiant star for the first time.

The real-time discovery was published in the Astrophysical Journal on January 6 and led by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of California at Berkeley.

According to a press release from the NorthwestThe team observed a red supergiant in the last 130 days before it collapsed into a Type II supernova.

Previous observations have shown that red supergiants were relatively inactive before their deaths, with no evidence of violent eruptions or radiant emission.

However, these researchers detected bright radiation from the red supergiant in the final year before it exploded.

“This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what moments do before massive stars die,” said Wynn Jacobson-Gallon Lead author of the study, Said in a statement. “Direct detection of pre-supernova activity in a red supergiant star has never been seen in a common type II supernova. For the first time, we have seen the red supergiant star explode.

The work carried out in the Northwest – before Jacobson-Gallon moved to UC Berkeley – suggests that at least some of the stars must undergo significant changes in their internal structure, leading to the expulsion of gas ahead of their collapse.

The star was first discovered by the Hawaii University Institute for Astronomy Pan-Stars in the summer of 2020, and the group captured its flash a few months later.

Spectrum of Supernova 2020tlf taken using WM Keck Observatory Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer.

The data revealed evidence of dense material surrounding the star at the time of the explosion.

Further imaging of the post-explosion and additional data from the Keck Observatory’s Deep Imaging and Multi-Object Spectrograph and the Near Infrared Echellet Spectrograph helped the researchers determine that SN 2020tlf’s ancestor is 10 times larger than the Red Supergiant star. The sun.

“I’m so excited by all the new ‘strangers’ unlocked by this quest,” Jacobson-Galen said. “Discovering more events like SN 2020tlf dramatically affects how we define the final months of stellar evolution, bringing together observers and theorists in search of the mystery of how massive stars spend the final moments of their lives.”

The study was supported NASA, National Science Foundation, Hyssing-Simons Foundation, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Willem Fonden.

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