Supernova Captured in Detail for the First Time

Astronomers at the Australian National University (ANU), together with NASA and an international team of researchers, have captured for the first time the first moments of a supernova.

The supernova was captured back in 2017 by NASA’s Kepler space telescope and the data was recreated by the ANU researchers who recorded the initial burst of light that is seen as the first shockwave travels through the star before it explodes.

A supernova is the cataclysmic explosion of a massive star and could help us better understand what happens to stars when they die.

“We’ve always missed the very, very start of a (supernova) because it is so exceedingly difficult to capture that,” said lead author Patrick Armstrong, a Ph.D. candidate at ANU.

Armstrong said the supernova, called SN2017jgh, was more than one billion light-years away from Earth which means that the “light we were seeing had actually left that star a billion years ago.”

Astronomers expect one star to explode per galaxy every 100 years on average. A supernova explodes rapidly, but it takes weeks or months for it to brighten and to eventually dim. The early phase of its explosion is observable for only a few days.

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