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New Insights about the Brightest Explosions in the Universe

2 Feb 2020, 16:04 UTC
New Insights about the Brightest Explosions in the Universe
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Swedish and Japanese researchers have, after ten years, found an explanation to the peculiar emission lines seen in one of the brightest supernovae ever observed – SN 2006gy. At the same time they found an explanation for how the supernova arose.Superluminous supernovae are the most luminous explosions in cosmos. SN 2006gy is one of the most studied such events, but researchers have been uncertain about its origin. Astrophysicists at Stockholm University have, together with Japanese colleagues, now discovered large amounts of iron in the supernova through spectral lines that have never previously been seen either in supernovae or in other astrophysical objects. That has led to a new explanation for how the supernova arose.“No-one had tested to compare spectra from neutral iron, i.e. iron which all electrons retained, with the unidentified emission lines in SN 2006gy, because iron is normally ionized (one or more electrons removed). We tried it and saw with excitement how line after line lined up just as in the observed spectrum”, says Anders Jerkstrand, Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University.“It became even more exciting when it quickly turned out that very large amounts of iron was needed to make the lines – at least a third of ...

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