Washington, Oct 27, – NASA, Euopean Space Agency’s Hubble Space Telescope gave astronomers a comprehensive, unprecedented view of the first moments after a star’s cataclysmic death.
NASA stated in a statement that Hubble’s data and other observations from ground-based and space telescopes of the doomed star may provide astronomers with an early warning system about other stars at risk.
The supernova is called SN 2020fqv and it can be found in the interacting Butterfly galaxy clusters. These galaxies are approximately 60 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. It was discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility, Palomar Observatory in San Diego in April 2020.
Astronomers were able to see the star’s very first holistic view in its earliest stages of destruction. Hubble found the material close to the star and probed it with the circumstellar material instrument, just hours after the explosion. The star lost this material in its last year. Astronomers were able to observe what was happening to the star right before its death.
Samaporn Tinyanont (lead author of the paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in the statement) said, “We seldom get to examine the very close-in circumstellar matter because it is only visible for very short times and we usually don’t start observing supernovas until at least several days after the explosion.”
Tinyanont said that for this supernova, Hubble was able to make extremely rapid observations, providing unprecedented coverage of the area right next to the star which exploded.”
Researchers called SN 2020fqv the “rosetta stone of supernovae.” Experts were able to learn how to read Egyptian hieroglyphs from the ancient Rosetta Stone. It has the same text written in three different scripts.
The team also suggested that this could be used as a warning system.
“So, if you notice a star shake around a little, or start acting up, it’s worth paying more attention to what’s happening there before it explodes. We’ll be able better understand what happens in the last few decades of a star’s life as we discover more supernovae.” Ryan Foley, University of California Santa Cruz, who led the team that discovered them, said.