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Astronomy | How do the biggest stars in the universe die? | Technology and science | Science


How do the days come to an end stars larger than the cosmos? Astronomers did not know the answer until now. One distant supermassive star seems to have the answer.

A study published in The Astrophysical Journal reports an unprecedented astronomical event: the supernova SN 2016iet in a distant galaxy and has annihilated his mother star.

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According to the Gemini Observatory, this "landmark event, something that astronomers had never witnessed before, can to represent the way the most massive stars in the Universe die, including the first stars. "

With this, astronomers will be forced to "put aside decades of research and focus on a new breed of supernovae who can completely annihilate his mother star, leaving no remnant. "

The supernova SN 2016iet was first detected by the European Space Agency (ESA) satellite Gaia for the first time in 2016.

After years of observation, the researchers detected a weak hydrogen emission, indicating that the progenitor star of SN 2016iet was living in an isolated region with very little star formation. This is an unusual environment for such a massive star.

According to scientists, SN 2016iet it has a multitude of rarities, including its incredibly long life, high energy, unusual chemical footprints and poor environment in heavier elements, for which there are no obvious analogues in the astronomical literature.

SN 2016iet he started his life as a star with about 200 times the mass of our Sun, so the explosion recorded is now one of the explosions of the most massive and powerful individual stars ever observed.

"The growing evidence suggests that the first stars born in the universe may have been just as massive. Astronomers have predicted that if such giants retain their mass during their short life (a few million years), they will die as supernovae of pair instability, which receives its name from the pairs of matter-antimatter formed in the explosion, "say the researchers.

Most massive stars are known to end their lives in an explosive event that throws heavy metal-rich matter into space, while its core collapses and forms one neutron star or black hole.

Las supernovae of pair instability, instead, they are a different type. The collapsing nucleus produces abundant gamma-ray radiation, leading to an outgrowth of pairs of particles and antiparticles that eventually trigger a catastrophic thermonuclear explosion that annihilates the entire star, including the core.

Another feature that catches the eye SN 2016iet is its location. Most massive stars are born in dense clusters of stars, though SN 2016iet was formed isolated at about 54,000 light years away from the center of its dwarf host galaxy.

"How can such a massive star be formed in complete isolation remains a mystery", asks Sebastián Gómez, of the Center for Astrophysics and main author of the research.

For astronomers, having detected SN 2016iet is important, because not so long ago he doubted if such supermassive stars they could actually exist.

This finding helps "to better understand how the universe developed early after its' dark age', when the formation of stars did not take place, to form the splendor of the Universe that we see today, "says Gomez.

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