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Hubble spots a supernova’s surviving companion

27 Apr 2018, 12:30 UTC
Hubble spots a supernova’s surviving companion
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NGC 7424 is located 40 million years away in the southern constellation of Grus, the Crane. Image credit: ESO
NASA and ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found and imaged a surviving companion to a supernova, the first image of its kind. 17 years ago and 40 million light years away in a galaxy called NGC 7424, a enormous stellar explosion occurred in the form of a supernova, and now astronomers have visually seen its companion star. This is the first evidence to the theory that some supernovae originate from a binary double-star system.
“We know that the majority of massive stars are in binary pairs,” says Stuart Ryder from the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) in Sydney, Australia. “Many of these binary pairs will interact and transfer gas from one star to the other when their orbits bring them close together.”
This companion star was not just an innocent bystander, but instead installed much mischief. As the supernova’s protagonist star reached the latter stages of its life, the companion star stole hydrogen from the doomed star’s stellar envelope, the region that transports energy from the star’s core to its atmosphere. Millions of years prior to the supernova, a severe state of ...

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