Their findings reflect the first time a star has been linked to the resulting explosion for this type of supernova, called Type Ib. The discovery offers very important answers about how this supernova type is formed, a problem that has eluded scientists for years.
About a third of all supernovae of massive stars are of the Type Ib. There are several theoretical models as to how they are formed, including mass transfer due to solar winds between a pair of binary stars. It is thought that the progenitors are either massive helium stars or a type of very large, very hot stars known as
"Pinpointing a progenitor star at exactly the same location as a Type Ib supernova was the best way to test the theories about the genesis of this type of explosion," Kasliwal said. "Now we need to patiently wait for the supernova to fade away and see if the star disappears."
The new supernova was discovered in mid-June. No explosive light source was detected even a day earlier. Baby pictures of this one-day-old supernova were promptly taken by telescopes in the radio, X-ray, ultra-violet, and infrared wavelengths, providing vital clues about its origins.
Detailed analysis of different types of observations of the supernova confirmed that it was, indeed, a Type Ib, and that it reached full luminosity two weeks from its initial explosion. The team detected a progenitor candidate for the explosion in Hubble Space Telescope imaging, linking the supernova to its predecessor star. Future imaging will help identify whether this progenitor was a single star, a binary star, or a star cluster. The team thinks that their observations are consistent with the progenitor having been a
The subject of the team's second paper using data from the new software system is a gamma ray burst afterglow called iPTF13bxl.
Gamma ray bursts are high-energy explosions that form some of the brightest celestial events. They can signify energy released during a supernova. Each burst is followed by an afterglow, which emits lower wavelength radiation than the original explosion.
Soon after the detection of a gamma-ray burst by the Fermi satellite, the team started hunting for the afterglow over a huge field more than 360-times the size of the full moon. They then had to narrow a list of more than 27,000 gamma-ray burst candidates down to a single afterglow. Follow-up research confirmed the relationship between the iPTF13bxl afterglow and a particular gamma-ray burst called GRB130702A.
The team then used the Magellan telescope to find the afterglow's so-called redshift value, which is a measurement of how much the light from it that reaches us on Earth has been stretched by the expansion of the universe. Thus, it reveals the afterglow's distance and tells astronomers where to look for an object, such as a supernova, which might emerge in the wake of the explosion.
"The sophisticated intermediate
The afterglow discovery was an important milestone on the road to the goal of being able to detect light from gravitational waves in the cosmos, for which scientists have been searching for decades.
Keywords for this news article include: Physics, Software, Supernovas,
Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2013, NewsRx LLC
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