Considering how huge and powerful a supernova is, it’s difficult to believe that anything can remain standing after its explosion. Supernovae catapult matter into space at a velocity of 15,000 to 40,000 kilometers per second, representing an explosion of a white dwarf star. But astronomy and physics are always there to demolish our preconceptions, and it happens once again.
ScienceAlert reveals the unusual case of a white dwarf star going supernova and not turning into a neutron star afterward as it should have happened, judging by the classic models. Instead, the white dwarf remained intact and even manifested a higher brightness than before the supernova itself.
The SN 2012Z supernova left astronomers speechless
SN 2012Z is the name of the supernova in question, and it’s located in the NGC 1309 galaxy, meaning roughly 120 million light-years away from Earth. Astronomers were able to detect easily which one of the stars was about to explode, but they wouldn’t have imagined that it will remain standing after the blast itself. Data gathered by NASA’s Hubble telescope was crucial here. The over three-decades-old telescope is still up there even today and gathering information about the Cosmos.
Curtis McCully, an astronomer from UC Santa Barbara, stated:
We were expecting to see one of two things when we got the most recent Hubble data. Either the star would have completely gone away, or maybe it would have still been there, meaning the star we saw in the pre-explosion images wasn’t the one that blew up,
Nobody was expecting to see a surviving star that was brighter. That was a real puzzle.
Scientists are unsure how the phenomenon of a white dwarf surviving a supernova and even becoming brighter after that is possible. They suppose that the explosion was weaker than usual supernovae, so it just created a little chaos that somehow gave the chance for the stellar material to return in a more voluminous shape.
The new study was published in The Astrophysical Journal.