This Unique Supernova Astonishes Scientists

Supernovae are among the most spectacular and interesting phenomenons in the Universe. Despite being the death of a star that usually lives for billions of years, a supernova can also trigger the formation of many young stars. A star dying just to provide the fuel for the formation of much younger ones speaks about the wonderful Universe that we live in – even destruction itself helps the creation. A supernova explosion can be extremely huge, surpassing even a whole galaxy.

An international team of researchers led by Assistant Professor of Physics Eric Hsiao from Florida State University discovered the supernova LSQ14fmg that defies their expectations.

LSQ14fmg is unexpectedly bright

The supernova is considered a Type Ia supernova and a member of the “super-Chandrasekhar” group. Therefore, scientists believe that LSQ14fmg is growing unexpectedly slow and it’s brighter than expected. After collecting new data, the conclusion was that the supernova was hitting some material that was surrounding it. Therefore, more light got released along with the light from the decaying nickel.

The new conclusion is that the supernova is exploding inside what was once an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star that was on its way to becoming a planetary nebula. A theory is that the explosion was triggered by the fusion of the core of the AGB star and another white dwarf star that was orbiting it.

Eric Hsiao declared:

This is the first strong observational proof that a Type Ia supernova can explode in a post-AGB or proto-planetary-nebula system and is an important step in understanding the origins of Type Ia supernovae,

He continues:

These supernovae can be particularly troublesome because they can mix into the sample of normal supernovae used to study dark energy. This research gives us a better understanding of the possible origins of Type Ia supernovae and will help to improve future dark energy research.

The research was published in the Astrophysical Journal.



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