Star Light, Star Bright

Supernova SN 2005E Says Hello to the Universe

Astronomy allows you to witness some of the biggest explosions in the universe
Supernova SN 2005E shines brightly on the edge of spiral galaxy NGC 1032

 An explosion for all time

Astronomy News – A supernova is one of the most spectacular and massive events astronomers journeying backward to the beginning of space and time view, and can often be billions of times as bright as Sol, or shine brighter than an entire galaxy. Take a journey to a supernova, like SN 2005E, which astronomers became aware of when it lite up the spiral galaxy NGC 1032 in 2005, and your view of life and the universe would change forever.

Supernova SN 2005E is shown in the halo of NGC 1032 (red arrow)

Astronomers spend countless hours looking for new supernovae to study

Astronomers had previously only viewed supernovae occurring in two ways during their Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time. In the first example, the massive core of a star collapses inward near the end of its life cycle, creating a shock wave that expels the star’s outer layers into the cold darkness of space and time. In the second, a white dwarf star steals matter from a companion star, until it reaches 1.4 solar masses. At this point, the white dwarf star is unable to support more mass, according to natural law, and detonates in a titanic stellar explosion brighter than a galaxy.

A team of astronomers looking at the data obtained by space scientists studying supernova SN 2005E believe this supernova could represent a third as yet unseen, path nature uses to create a supernova. This analysis of this team of scientists has determined that this supernova occurred in a region of space and time devoid of massive stars. They also determined that this supernova only ejected a small volume of stellar material (0.3 solar masses) and abnormally high levels of calcium and radioactive titanium into the universe.

Team member Alex Filipenko of the University of California, Berkeley, and team leaders Hagai Perets of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge and Avishay Gal-Yam of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, conclude supernova SN 2005E took place between a low-mass white dwarf star that was stealing helium from a companion star. They also believe the volume of calcium released during supernova SN 2005E was large enough that only a few similar supernovae would be sufficient per century to provide all of the calcium presently viewed in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Supernova SN 2005E Says Hello to the Universe

The Earth being round was old news to ancient astronomers

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Journey to the Small Near-Earth Asteroid 25143 Itokawa

What do you think a little asteroid dust could tell us about the universe?

Astronomers are currently studying asteroid 25143 Itokawa
Hayabusa has returned from its mission to asteroid 25143 Itokawa

Astronomy gurus watched as it came back to Earth

Astronomy News – The return capsule of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s asteroid-hunting Hayabusa spacecraft splashed down safely near Australia on June 13. This marks the return of a space traveller that was launched in 2003 in order to journey to the small near-Earth asteroid 25143 Itokawa to bring back a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Hayabusa has been designed and engineered to fire a projectile into the surface of asteroid 25143 Itokawa and hopefully kick up dust that can be collected by Hayabusa’s onboard collection container. The only problem is space scientists don’t know yet if Hayabusa was able to accomplish its mission, but they remain hopeful the projectile was able to fire and the collection container store some dust for them to study. Any dust they find could still be Earth dust that somehow entered the collection container, so any material they find in the collection container will still have to be verified to be true asteroid dust.

Astronomy and asteroid hunting is fun
Asteroid 25143 Itokawa is a small near-Earth asteroid that will be remembered for all time

Hayabusa’s mission was a success, even if the projectile didn’t fire and the collection container didn’t collect any dust because Japanese space scientists were able to conduct several other groundbreaking experiments. Stay tuned to “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time” in the days and weeks ahead in the century of the environment for new developments on this front.

Astronomy will be serious business during the next century


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Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion