For The First Time, We've Seen a Red Giant Star Transition Into a Supernova

Kyle

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For The First Time, We've Seen a Red Giant Star Transition Into a Supernova

DAVID NIELD8 JANUARY 2022

We're seeing many spectacular sights out in space as our telescopes become more powerful, but there's a new contender for the most exciting one yet: According to researchers, we've observed a red supergiant star exploding into a supernova for the first time.

Supernova (SN) 2020tlf, to give it its technical name, was watched for 130 days leading up to the gigantic blast, the result of the demise of a star some 120 million light-years away from Earth in the NGC 5731 galaxy and about 10 times more massive than our own Sun.

The team says that this unprecedented look at one of the most fascinating and large-scale events in the Universe shows that there isn't always a 'calm before the storm' in terms of supernova blasts – something that challenges previous assumptions.

"This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do moments before they die," says Wynn Jacobson-Galán, an astronomer from the University of California, Berkeley, and the study's lead author.

"Direct detection of pre-supernova activity in a red supergiant star has never been observed before in an ordinary Type II supernova. For the first time, we watched a red supergiant star explode!"



 
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