Hubble captures an unusual supernova companion

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NASA, hubble telescope

The Hubble Telescope has celebrated its 28th year in space earlier this week. A new study which was published on March 28th in the Astrophysical Journal said that the astronomers who use NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope had taken the image of a serving companion to a supernova.

The image of the star which was seen as it is fading afterglow of a supernova which was exploded some 40 million light-years away in the galaxy NGC 7424. It provides the evidence about the supernova which originated in double star systems.

NASA, Hubble telescope

As per a study, the supernova’s companion star is not just a bystander rather it acts as an instigator. The supernova SN 2001ig is considered as a Type IIb stripped-envelope supernova. This type of supernova occurred when the majority of the massive star’s hydrogen was moved away due to the explosion. During the year 1987, an astronomer named Alex Fillippenko who is from the University of California, Berkeley; identify the rare breed of a supernova.

Earlier, astronomers used to believe that the progenitor stars to the supernova had lost their outer shells due to the incredibly strong and fast stellar winds which prevail in space. But, this theory seems to be incomplete as the observers have not found enough progenitor stars which make it to the feasible scenario. The co-author Ori Fox who is an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore said in a press release that “That was especially bizarre because astronomers expected that they would be the most massive and the brightest progenitor stars. Also, the sheer number of stripped-envelope supernovas is greater than predicted.”

In case of SN 2001ig, the companion star has nearly siphoned off all the hydrogen from the outer shell of the supernova progenitor. The outer region of the star is extremely efficient incapable of transferring the energy from the core outward and the absence of the envelope can have many dramatic implications.

Astronomers witnessed the inevitable explosion 17 years ago and the researchers with the help of European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to track down the accurate location of the supernova. During the year 2004, the follow-up observations are carried out with the help of Gemini South Observatory which shows the presence of the surviving binary companion. The team waited patiently with the exact location of the potential supernova in hand and saw the glow of supernova which was continued to fade away.  

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