May 08, 2007

The Ultimate In Shinies!


A NASA composite image shows an artist's illustration (top) of what the Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes indicate to be the brightest and most energetic stellar explosion ever recorded, as it would appear if viewed closely. The bottom left panel is an infrared image, using adaptive optics at the Lick Observatory. The panel to the right shows Chandra's X-ray image of the same field of view.
(NASA/CXC/UC Berkeley)

The NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory has discovered the brightest supernova ever recorded. At least 150 times the mass of our own Sun, the star could be one of the remnants of the original stars from when the Galaxy first started.

"This was a truly monstrous explosion, a hundred times more energetic than a typical supernova," said Nathan Smith of the University of California at Berkeley, who led a team of astronomers from California and the University of Texas. "That means the star that exploded might have been as massive as a star can get, about 150 times that of our Sun. We've never seen that before."

Scientists had to wait for the evidence from the Chandra X-ray Observatory to rule out an alternate theory that the explosion was from a white dwarf star because if it had been smaller, the X-rays detected would have been 1000 times brighter.

And now they wonder if one of the giant stars in our Galaxy, Eta Carinae, could annihilate itself in the same way because it was seen expelling a large of amount of mass which was what they observed with SN2006gy before it blew itself to bits.

So perhaps we should put a star death watch on Eta Carinae now? We wouldn't even need special equipment if it decided to go as it would be almost as bright as the full moon in daytime. Wow.

Posted by Mary at May 8, 2007 06:44 AM | Science | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |