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King of Supernovae

05/08/2007 1:17 AM

"This was a truly monstrous explosion, a hundred times more energetic than a typical supernova," said Nathan Smith of the University of California at Berkeley, who led a team of astronomers from California and the University of Texas in Austin. "That means the star that exploded might have been as massive as a star can get, about 150 times that of our sun. We've never seen that before."

Apparently, this indicates towards a flaw in the theory of how early black holes formed, but at the same time, it is good news for the evolution of the structures of the universe.

Read the full NASA story here.

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Guru
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#1

Re: King of Supernovae

05/08/2007 3:32 PM

Hello this was put up on the bbc world web page under science and nature earlier to day news travels fast here in the UK.

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#2

Re: King of Supernovae

05/09/2007 12:04 AM

Hi Jorrie,

I have 2 questions

1) Was this brighter than the Type Ia that are used as standard candles?

2) What did you mean "it is good news for the evolution of the structures of the universe."

Regards,

S

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Guru
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#3
In reply to #2

Re: King of Supernovae

05/09/2007 12:38 AM

Hi SG, you asked: "1) Was this brighter than the Type Ia that are used as standard candles?

Yes, hundreds of times brighter! Type SN1a happens from stars that has about 1.4 solar masses (the Chandrasekhar limit). The most common source is binary star systems, both below this mass limit, where one companion gobbles up some matter from its companion. When it reaches the 1.4 Suns limit, it goes bang!

The monster described here had 100+ times the Chandrasekhar limit in mass - a real fat one.

2) What did you mean "it is good news for the evolution of the structures of the universe.""

If all early, very big stars have collapsed into black holes, it would have left less gas containing heavier elements in circulation. This would certainly have retarded the formation of population 2 and 3 stars later. I'm not sure if the actual structures, like clusters and higher, would have developed differently, but I guess it would have...

-J

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: King of Supernovae

05/09/2007 1:18 AM

One correction/clarification:

The binary star system can't be made of any old type of star. One of them must be a white dwarf and the other one a red giant. The white dwarf than robs matter from the red giant until it is so gorged that it (the dwarf) self-destructs.

Wiki has a nice description of this process in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova under Type 1a.

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