Hubble’s Archives Help Researchers Spot Novel Type of Supernova

Hubble’s Archives Help Researchers Spot Novel Type of Supernova

While checking out the data gathered over two decades of observation from the Hubble space telescope, researchers have found evidence of the progenitor of a new type of supernova. It has been named as Type 1ax.

A team of researchers from Rutgers University came across the images collected by the Hubble of the galaxy NGC 1309. In this galaxy, astronomers discovered a weak supernova called SN 2012Z. "We expected that the progenitor system would be too faint to see, like in previous searches for normal Type Ia supernova progenitors", said Curtis McCully, lead author of the study.

The team has come up with a hypothesis as per which the star's hydrogen envelope has been drawn off and has left behind a bright, blue core of helium. The team also thinks it is the companion star that fed SN 2012Z's explosion. As per them, it would be the most viable explanation for the system in which two stars explode mass at one another over time.

Saurabh Jha of Rutgers University shared that the SN 2012Z resides in galaxy NGC 1309, which is 100 million light years away. It was in 2012 that the galaxy was discovered through the Lick Observatory Supernova Search. But researchers found that the Hubble has also observed NGC 1309 many years before the supernova explosion.

Curtis said the pre-explosion images showed the object near the location of the supernova. They considered that the progenitor would be too faint to see, but it is good when nature surprises. Researchers are planning to use Hubble again in 2015 to view the area.


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