Astronomers Believe They’ve Seen A New Type Of Supernova

A worldwide team led by UC Santa Barbara scientists at Las Cumbres Observatory has discovered the first convincing evidence for a new type of stellar explosion—an electron-capture supernova.

While they have been theorized for 40 years, real-world examples have been elusive. They are thought to arise from the explosions of massive super-asymptotic giant branch (SAGB) stars, for which there has also been scant evidence.

The discovery, published in Nature Astronomy, also sheds new light on the thousand-year mystery of the supernova from A.D. 1054 that was visible all over the world in the daytime, before eventually becoming the Crab Nebula. More

47 Comments on Astronomers Believe They’ve Seen A New Type Of Supernova

  1. “It helped that the supernova was relatively nearby—only 31 million light-years away”. That actually sounds kind of far away.

  2. 52,850 is the distance in light years it would take to cross from one side of the galaxy to the other.

    31 light years is a peanut.

  3. The biggest number that scares me is the number of ‘ASSHOLES’ that live in America and still hate this country.

    Sorry for hijacking the thread but…….

    Just carry on.

  4. There’s a huge photo of the Crab Nebula inside Aunt Crabby’s Crab Nest restaurant near Baltimore.

  5. Global warming is causing Supernovas.

    I had lunch with an old friend, who is a very smart guy, but only watches CNN. Get this: he did not know the continents are moving. No joke. He actually believed tides are rising and continents if they are moving now – are moving because of global warming.

  6. @Burr, prone…no really, my back is on fire

    Small error – you’ve mistaken radius for diameter. Our galaxy is just over 100,000 ly in diameter, making your point even more… poignant.

  7. I did mistake radius for diameter.

    No wonder I can never find my car keys. This place is fuggin’ HUGE.

  8. It’s math, I don’t understand it, I just do what it says.

    :admires new 12 foot self in aircraft hanger mirror:

  9. ^^^^ not even the ’69 396 Super Nova? ^^^^

    oops, you did say the 80’s

    btw, a couple of observations on the article …. our Sun is a relative wimp compared to these stars … won’t even explode or nothing!
    … & the ‘money’ quote: “Its luminosity was probably artificially enhanced by the supernova ejecta colliding with material cast off by the progenitor star…” …. wow! sounds like the Peter North of those Super-Duper Novas!

    … & not one quip about Uranus ….

  10. @joe

    The Milky Way galaxy (our galaxy) is about 100,000 ly across. The observable universe is around 96 billion ly across, from the perspective of Earth; that’s 48 billion ly in any direction. Beyond that horizon is unknowable and will remain so, due to the limits imposed by the collective speed of light and universal expansion.

  11. A hint for the uninitiated: the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant: “c”.

    Universal expansion is slightly more intricate. While the galaxies appear to be moving apart from one another, what’s actually happening is that space itself is expanding. What’s more, it isn’t a constant rate, but it’s accelerating. We measure this in several units, but one is km/s/s/pc (parsec). Convoluted, to be sure.

    To illustrate, imagine driving from, say, New York to L.A. The whole while you’re going at a constant speed. But as you travel, each mile of highway is growing longer, not by a fixed rate, but is growing longer, faster – it’s expansion is accelerating.

    With enough acceleration of road lengthening, you can see that, by a certain distance, you could no longer expect to be able to reach your destination because your rate of speed is insufficient to overcome the cumulative lengthening of the road ahead. That point at which one could calculate to just barely never quite reach, is your horizon.

    The same is true with light traveling to us from distant points in the universe, and we calculate that horizon distance to be about 48 billion lightyears in any direction. Hence, 96bly diameter of observable universe.

    Don’t get me started on the idea of multiverse.

  12. didn’t they figure out this ‘light speed’ stuff in ‘Star Trek’?

    … or at least w/ Ham Salad’s Millentenium Falcon Naviputer in ‘Star Wars’?

  13. Did i mention I’m a bit of a nerd? I can also explain why grass is green, the sky is blue, and why the ocean is blue but rivers aren’t.

    My love of astronomy started when I was 3. I remember standing on the deck with my parents on a warm Connecticut night, looking up and asking, “How far does it go?”

    Dad said, “Forever.” at the same time mom said, “As far as God want’s it to.” I couldn;t parse the conflict, so I spent the next few years reading everything I could get my hands o about the subject. At age 6, I finally got my first library card, and in under 2 years had consumed all my tiny town’s library had to offer. The cities were just too far away.

    In 1980 or 81, PBS aired a 13 part series – Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. A neighbor recorded the audio on reel-to-reel. I listened to it over and over. In the late 90’s, I bought the series on DVD. Still have the reel somewhere, but no longer have a machine to play it on.

    I never stopped loving the subject and, with the internet, I get to read an awful lot of research papers. I don’t much frequent the pop-sci pages, save to glance at headlines to lead me to new papers that I’ve missed. Arxiv and Vixra are good sources for those interested.

    I’ve also taught myself all the maths (plural intentional) involved in the study of the totality of everything. (Though my employer insists that i don’t have an education.)

    to this day, I’ve never had the opportunity to look through a telescope, but I can picture it all in my mind, at any scale from the atomic to the cosmic.


    Look up “Alcubierre Drive”. When you’ve digested that a bit, please understand that it would take an infinite amount of energy to accomplish. But there’s a sort-of cheat – one need not keep the field continuously maintained, as space can (locally) only expand or contract at c. One could, instead, pulse the drive, bringing the energy consumption down to about a Jupiter/millisecond.

    Name another blog that has used that unit…

  15. @joe

    Can we do that another night? I work 3 jobs (because I don’t have an education) and need to hit the hay.

  16. Sturge, awesome story. While I haven’t looked through a world class telescope either, I did bolt down all the superstructure bolts for the telescope at the Keck Observatory on the Big Island. There is some nerds there too.

  17. We need to fund Sturge so he can look through a professional telescope.

    Seems like it’d be gas money and some change for some smokes. There’s 20 or so observatories open to the public. I think we could pull it off.

  18. I can match that.

    Boom. 100 bucks to get Sturge to a peepin’ tube.

    Anybody else want to fund science? We can make it a weekend adventure for S man.

  19. Sturge is living proof that you don’t have to have a fancy degree to be a very highly educated individual.

    IMHO, anyway.

  20. Wow, look at the big brain on Sturge. Very cool. So I’m not good at space, however vacuums vary and are measured in a unit called Torres. So, “A hint for the uninitiated: the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant: “c”. “. OK, at what torre?

  21. If you want to duplicate this experiment here on earth, be sure and build your chamber out of 304 stainless steel. Every other stainless out gases and will wreck your shit.

  22. The Elgin Observatory is still working, I think.

    I was a clock and watch guy, not that other stuff…

    “Hey, what’s that?”

    “It’s something in the sky. It’s not the moon, I’m pretty sure.”

    “Well, then, what’s that?”

    “It’s also something in the sky. It’s a bright light, or something.”

  23. Ian, my son, asks about clocks because there’s a grandfather clock in the living room that I am almost constantly fucking with…

    “What’s that?”

    “Escapement. By retarding or advancing the pendulum we change the period of the…”

    “Dad, look at the cat!”

    I guess he ain’t ready for that yet.

  24. 1st annual Admin Girl Award for Awesomeness.

    Burr Institute Grant for Super Science.

    IOTW Prize to advance noldge

    DANCO stipend for technological theft

    Unky Als good time money bag for fun.

    Hmmm. Might need to work on the actual name of the fund, but the point is, this is a cool idea. We should do it annually.

  25. @Sturge ~ totally understand that travelling at the speed of light is practically an impossibility without a quantum leap of technology that’s not gonna happen within Earth’s time left before the Sun expands to crispy-fry us (we’ll be lucky to get to the outer reaches of the solar system by that time; hell, we’ll be too busy mining the solar system for ComPac profits)

    we are an anomaly within the universe, a mathematical oddity … enjoy it while you can, kiddies!

  26. @Burr:

    …Unky Als good time money bag for fun…

    Aw, gee. You finally figured out I’ve been funnin’ y’all.

    BTW, I’m in for another $50 for the “Get Sturge to a big telescope” fund.

  27. Well, we use TDRs and OTDRs all the time and show Vps in copper in the mid-eighties. That’s just coax laying on the floor.

    That’s pretty stellar.

    Think about that. Do the math.

    But maff be rayciss, an shit, yo.

  28. I’ll send an email to whats his name. We all should. This is a cool idea. Like the make a wish foundation, but for normal people who’ll probably go on to enjoy life for a few more years.

    First we send Sturge to wherever it is he want’s to go.

    Then in a couple of months we send somebodies worthy nephew to NASCAR camp, or gun shootin’ academy or hell, buy someone a water heater.

    The fudge have we been doin’ for the past 12 years besides goofin’ on schmucks? We should actually DO something.

    So yeah, we’re up to 150 to get Sturge to his beloved lookin’ stick.

  29. @Brad: “…the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant…”

    that’s why they don’t send dogs into space anymore, like the russians did. They can’t stand the vacuum

  30. Ya’ know….. for 150 more mucks we could simply buy Sturge a decent telescope…..

    :brings out Sammy Davis Jr:

    c’mon folks, we wanna’ see those pledge numbers soar

  31. Careful kid, I once thought I was gettin’ a million simoleons.

    I woke up to a house full of pacific islanders and Tiki statues.

    eh? eh?

    :spins bow tie:

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