Astronomers have painted a picture of a star's life long before its death. They have used low-frequency radio observations to peek into the past life of a star which is now a supernova
Faint hisses from space let scientists travel back in time and offer clues to a dead star's past. This sounds something fascinating.
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An international team of astronomers has managed to peek into the past of a nearby star long before its explosion. The star is now a supernova and has collapsed into remnant. The supernova, known as supernova 1987A, is located some 168 light years away from the Earth and came into existence almost 30 years ago.
Supernova 1987A is the closest and brightest supernova seen from Earth. Using a powerful telescope in West Australian desert, researchers have detected very low faintest of the hisses from the space. The detection of cosmic hisses through low-frequency radio astronomy allowed researchers to paint a picture of this star’s past millions of years before its famous explosion.
“Low frequency radio waves are very sensitive to the presence of intervening plasma, so tell us a great deal about the density of matter immediately in front of the supernova remnant,” said co-author Professor Lister Staveley-Smith. “Their presence also tells us about the in-situ acceleration of very high-energy particles called cosmic rays, many of which are believed to be created in young remnants such as this.”
When a star reaches the final stage of its life cycle, its core collapses and leads to a giant explosion. Supernova is the largest explosion that takes place in the space and holds a key to the formation of universe and supernovas in general.
Previously, it was not possible to look back at the distant past of an exploded star due to the lack of cutting -edge technology. Now, low-frequency radio observations has enabled researchers to investigate a supernova’s past life millions of years further back than what was used to be.
“Just like excavating and studying ancient ruins that teach us about the life of a past civilization, my colleagues and I have used low-frequency radio observations as a window into the star’s life,” said lead researcher Joseph Callingham from University of Sydney.
“Our new data improves our knowledge of the composition of space in the region of supernova 1987; we can now go back to our simulations and tweak them to better reconstruct the physics of supernovae.”