Science

Astronomers Take A Second Look At Supernova

By Rodney Rafols , Dec 13, 2016 02:21 AM EST

Often when a bright flare or explosion happens in space, it would mean a supernova. That is what astronomers thought when an event like it happened in 2015. Now, though, astronomers take a second look at the supernova and discover something else.

A bright flash in space often means the death of a star. This was what happened some time in 2015. But then though astronomers still think it's the death of a star, a new study shows that it is not through the usual route of the star going supernova. With new data, astronomers now think the event called ASASSN-15lh might have been a tidal disruption event (TDE).

Observation data made at the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) indicate the event was a TDE, which means that the star still met its end though not by being a supernova. Instead, the star had its demise because of a supermassive black hole. That has been the assessment of research co-author and lead of the supernova group at LCO Andy Howell. Howell is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Physics at University of California Santa Barbara.

The black hole is said to be 100 million times the mass of the Sun. The star was not taken in whole by the black hole but rather was tidally disrupted, which means that the black hole was also spinning, according to The Current, the University of California Santa Barbara's site. The star came close to the black hole. As it came close, the black hole's strong gravitational pull tore the star apart.

The bright flare that astronomers have seen was when the material from the star began to go into the black hole. As it in, it spun and then collided with other material, which then created the bright flare that was seen. Study co-author Iair Arcavi and principal investigator of the LCO program said that such flares have only been studied in the last few years, as Science Daily reports.

With new equipment and instruments, such flares like ASASSN-15lh can now be studied. Arcavi has said that such events are more diverse and also shows that black holes can be diverse as well. With the study, astronomers take a second look at a supernova, and discover that it is something else. Another study has recently seen a galaxy in a state of transformation.

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