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Star collision triggers supernova explosion

7 Sep 2021, 12:00 UTC
Star collision triggers supernova explosion
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Artist’s concept of fast-moving debris from a supernova explosion that earthly astronomers first saw in 2014. The debris crashed into gas thrown out by an earlier supernova in this double-star system. The shocks caused the bright radio emission seen by astronomers. Image via Bill Saxton/ NRAO/ AUI/ NSF.
Astronomers have pieced together the fascinating history of a centuries-long death dance between two massive stars, 500 million light-years away. That’s according to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico, which announced the new work on September 2, 2021. The evidence suggests that a black hole or neutron star spiraled into the core of its companion star. In doing so, it caused the companion to explode as a supernova. Astronomer Dillon Dong of Caltech, lead author on a new paper reporting the discovery, commented:
Theorists had predicted that this could happen, but this is the first time we’ve actually seen it.
The peer-reviewed journal Science published the study on September 3.
Data from the VLA (Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array), a radio observatory near Socorro, New Mexico, first tipped off these astronomers. A multi-year project called VLASS (Very Large Array Sky Survey) began at the VLA in 2017. ...

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