A supernova is the bright and powerful explosion of a star that is at least five times larger than our sun. This week, scientists at the Center for Astrophysics discovered a supernova larger and brighter than any on record.
These enormous stars burn large amounts of nuclear energy at their cores which generates outward heat to keep the star from collapsing. When a star runs out of energy, gravity’s inward pressure forces it to collapse and the outer part of the star explodes.
The researchers located the supernova, called SN2016aps, using the Panoramic Survey Telescopes and Rapid Response System in the Hawaiian Haleakala Observatory. They have been monitoring the explosion for two years and have estimated that its energy is five times greater than the average supernova and its mass is 50 to 100 times greater than our sun.
The supernova is so large it is taking years to explode. Researchers theorize that this rare and powerful supernova could have been formed when two stars merged. The scientists must wait for the star to burn out completely before seeing if it forms a black hole and before it reveals what’s behind it.
Large and exceptional supernovas like SN2016aps give researchers insights into the behavior of other stars and offer unique longer-term periods in which to study them. Yesterday, we discussed 30 new species of deepwater dwellers. These discoveries show there is still much to be learned about our Earth and the expansive galaxies beyond.