Space telescope captures star explosions for first time

What does a star look like when it explodes?

It looks like this.

You’ve just seen something humans have never seen before, according to NASA.

Researchers at Notre Dame analyzed light captured by the space telescope Kepler over a three year period from 500 different galaxies. They wanted to find the death of a star.

The found it, NASA announced yesterday. They found two.

While both explosions delivered a similar energetic punch, no shock breakout was seen in the smaller of the supergiants. Scientists think that is likely due to the smaller star being surrounded by gas, perhaps enough to mask the shockwave when it reached the star’s surface.

“That is the puzzle of these results,” said Garnavich. “You look at two supernovae and see two different things. That’s maximum diversity.”

Understanding the physics of these violent events allows scientists to better understand how the seeds of chemical complexity and life itself have been scattered in space and time in our Milky Way galaxy

“All heavy elements in the universe come from supernova explosions. For example, all the silver, nickel, and copper in the earth and even in our bodies came from the explosive death throes of stars,” said Steve Howell, project scientist for NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “Life exists because of supernovae.”

  • THAT…was pretty cool.

  • Kassie

    I often question the money we put into space exploration and NASA, but I will be the first to admit that space is SO COOL! So cool.

    • Jim in RF

      I’m with you, but the context is important. NASA’s 2016 budget is $18.5 billion. The F35 fighter plane’s development costs are $59 billion to-date (and it doesn’t fly yet). The expected total cost w/production will be $1.3 trillion. Each helmet that the pilots wear costs $400,000. I’ve got a problem with that.

      • Ryan Johnson

        And then we have vietnam era prop planes being tested in Iraq. I guess when you cut their budget they start thinking about efficiency.

        • Jerry

          In the case of the OV-10, it’s also using the right tool for the job.

      • Kassie

        But in another context, we spend more federal dollars on NASA than we do giving cash benefits to our poorest families by $2 billion a year. In Minnesota, a family of four gets only $621 a month in cash if they have zero other income, which is shockingly low.

        • Postal Customer

          They should not be thought of in the same context at all.

          Also, there is money to do both.

          • Kassie

            Sure, there is money for both, but the TANF block grant has not increased since 1996, but the NASA budget has. We as a society should not be prioritizing space over poor families. If we won’t raise taxes, then cuts have to come from somewhere.

          • For the record, my property taxes just went up 16 percent. This notion that we’re not raising them is incorrect. We’re raising them.

          • How much of your property taxes go to TANF or NASA, though?

          • Kassie

            Did your tax rate go up 16%? If so that’s a raise in taxes. If it was just that your home is worth more now, that’s not a raise in taxes. And I’ll amend my response to say “if we won’t raise INCOME taxes, then cuts have to come from somewhere else.”

          • Oh, no. County boards have been raising tax levies like crazy this year. And schools. Some of it is increased levies but not all of it. But the oft-stated sentence that we’re not willing to pay more taxes or that taxes aren’t going up isn’t quite true. Heck, property taxes were going up even when the economy was crashing and burning.

  • Mitch

    “We are made of star stuff” — Carl Sagan

  • Fred, Just Fred

    Wow. Thanks for sharing that.