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Astronomers Discover Secrets About Powerful Ancient Supernovae

Update Date: Dec 19, 2013 09:06 AM EST
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Astronomers have discovered two of the brightest and most distant supernovae ever discovered. These supernovae are placed 10 billion light-years away and are hundred times more luminous than a normal supernova.

They also believe that these two supernovae might have exploded even before the existence of out sun.

The astronomers are puzzled with the discovery as the mechanism that powers majority of them doesn’t explain their extreme luminosity. The supernovae are generally powered by collapse of a giant star to a black hole or normal neutron star.

“At first, we had no idea what these things were, even whether they were supernovae or whether they were in our galaxy or a distant one,” said lead author D. Andrew Howell, a staff scientist at Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) and also an adjunct faculty at UC Santa Barbara in the press release.

“I showed the observations at a conference, and everyone was baffled. Nobody guessed they were distant supernovae because it would have made the energies mind-bogglingly large. We thought it was impossible.”

The study has also found that these supernovae might be powered by the creation of magnetar which is an extraordinarily magnetized neutron star that is spinning hundred of times per second.

“What may have made this star special was an extremely rapid rotation,” Kasen added. “When it ultimately died, the collapsing core could have spun up a magnetar like a giant top. That enormous spin energy would then be unleashed in a magnetic fury.”

The developments of the study will appear in the Dec. 20 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

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