Astronomers have discovered a rare class of supernova, which occurred about 10.5 billion years ago, when the universe was relatively young.
What Is A Supernova?
A supernova is the explosion of a star during the last evolutionary stages of its life. It happens when there are changes in the stellar core. Supernovae burn for a short period, but they give astronomers valuable information about the universe.
In a study published in The Astrophysical Journal, astronomers reported about the exploding star called DES16C2nm, the most distant supernova ever detected.
The Dark Energy Survey, a collaboration of international scientists to map galaxies to learn more about dark energy, was instrumental in the discovery.
Oldest And Most Distant Supernova Ever Discovered
Astronomers said that it took 10.5 billion years for the light of the cosmic explosion to reach Earth, which makes DES16C2nm the oldest supernova ever discovered. The event is believed to have happened when the universe was just 13.8 billion years old, or just a quarter of its current age.
Mathew Smith, from the University of Southampton, who was part of the Dark Energy Survey, said that the supernova is also extremely rare. Astronomers do not typically encounter it.
DES16C2nm is a superluminous supernova, or SLSN, the brightest and rarest type of supernovae. This class of supernovae was discovered just a decade ago. Smith said that the discovery of DES16C2nm offers astronomers unique insights about SLSN.
"The ultraviolet light from SLSN informs us of the amount of metal produced in the explosion and the temperature of the explosion itself, both of which are key to understanding what causes and drives these cosmic explosions," Smith said.
Study Of SLSN May Lead To Advances In Stellar Astrophysics And Cosmology
Study researcher Masao Sako, from Penn's School of Arts and Sciences, said that a better understanding of this class of supernovae may lead to advances in stellar astrophysics and cosmology.
Since SLSN are up to 100 times brighter than the more common type 1a supernova, they can be seen at greater distances. This would give researchers the ability to probe more deeply into the expansion history of the universe, which could shed more light about the nature of dark energy.
Knowing how stars die can also help scientists discover new information about how compact objects in the universe such as neutron stars and black holes are created.