Astronomers have spotted a supernova just hours after it disintegrated in the galaxy.
The scientists announced the news on Monday and this marks the first time that they have been able to spot the initial moments of explosion.
The star, situated in the galaxy NGC 7610 (nearly 160 million light-years away from Earth), was seen only three hours after the supernova explosion. This was soon enough to spot the debris and ascertain what happened just prior to its destruction.
This type of supernova generally takes place as soon as the giant star becomes devoid of fuel and goes on to explode. Supernovas are brighter than other stars in the galaxy.
What The Scientists Discovered
Astronomers first spotted the supernova, dubbed "SN 2013fs," in October 2013 when they were surveying the sky at the Palomar Observatory. The researchers deployed ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths to observe the star further and determine that it was nearly 10 times the size of the sun.
The observations revealed that it was a Type II supernova. The lead researcher of the study Ofer Yaron noted that observing a supernova in the initial hours post its explosion is "crucial for shedding light on our understanding of both the latest stages of evolution of massive stars and of the explosion mechanisms themselves."
Scientists found that before the star exploded it had been encased by a disk of matter, which formed a year ago. During the final stages, the star was expeling plenty of gaseous matter before it lost its mass when it finally exploded.
"It's as if the star 'knows' its life is ending soon, and is puffing material at an enhanced rate during the final breaths," shared Yaron.
The researcher stated that in its final days, the star discharges material thereby reducing the mass. Eventually the collapse of the core takes place. The ejection of a huge mass of material results in destabilization of the star, which leas to its death. Scientists, however, do not see any logic behind this phenomenon of a start shedding of mass in its final moments.
The fact that a supernova does not become quiet in its final stages is an exciting find for the scientific community.
The scientists observed that the star was a red supergiant that exploded at a speed of 224,000 miles per hour.
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Physics.