Even cosmic objects so huge, powerful, imposing, and bright as a red supergiant star will cease to exist one day. It’s the natural way things go in the entire Universe. Everything transforms, and nothing vanishes completely.
When a star dies, the event is so fascinating that it cannot be compared with anything else. Also known as supernovae, these explosions could sometimes be as big and bright as an entire galaxy.
The first real-time look at a red supergiant star’s death
According to CNN, astronomers can now consider themselves privileged to be witnessing the first real-time look at the death of a red supergiant star as seen through a ground-based telescope.
The star that makes the subject of this article is indeed something else. It was ten times more massive than our Sun before it went “boom,” and it was located all the way in the NGC 5731 galaxy, meaning roughly 120 million light-years away from our planet.
The supernova resulted was named 2020tlf.
Raffaella Margutti, who’s an associate professor of astrophysics and astronomy at UC Berkeley, declared as quoted by CNN:
It’s like watching a ticking time bomb,
We’ve never confirmed such violent activity in a dying red supergiant star where we see it produce such a luminous emission, then collapse and combust, until now.
Jacobson-Galán, who also conducted the work, explains more about the importance of the discovery, as cited by the same source:
I am most excited by all of the new ‘unknowns’ that have been unlocked by this discovery,
Detecting more events like SN 2020tlf will dramatically impact how we define the final months of stellar evolution, uniting observers and theorists in the quest to solve the mystery on how massive stars spend the final moments of their lives.
Luckily enough, Earth is not in the trajectory of any known supernova. Such an event would easily destroy all life forms on our planet.