Astronomers witness red supergiant star’s death for the first time

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Astronomers have captured the death of a red supergiant star for the first time.

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The real-time discovery was published January 6 in the Astrophysical Journal and was led by researchers from Northwestern University and the University of California, Berkeley.

According to a press release from Northwestern, the team observed the red supergiant during the past 130 days before collapsing into a Type II supernova.

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Previous observations have shown that the red supergiants were relatively inactive before their death, without any evidence of violent explosions or luminous emissions.

However, these researchers detected bright radiation from a red supergiant in the final year before the explosion.

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“This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do before they die,” said Wynn Jacobson-Gallon, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “The direct detection of pre-supernova activity in a red supergiant star has never been seen before in a normal type II supernova. For the first time, we saw a red supergiant star explode.”

The work—which was conducted at Northwestern before Jacobson-Gallon’s transfer to UC Berkeley—suggests that at least some stars will undergo significant changes in their internal composition, leading to gas ejection before their collapse. Will go

The star was first discovered in the summer of 2020 by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy Pan-STARRS, and the group captured its flash a few months later.

The spectrum of supernova 2020tlf was taken using the WM Keck Observatory’s Low Resolution Imaging spectrometer,

The data revealed evidence of dense circumstantial material around the star at the time of the explosion.

Monitoring additional data after the explosion from Keck Observatory’s Deep Imaging and Multi-Object Spectrograph and Near Infrared Echelon Spectrograph helped researchers determine SN 2020tlf’s progenitor 10 times more massive than the red supergiant star. Sunday,

“I am most excited by all the new ‘unknowns’ that have been unlocked by this discovery,” said Jacobson-Gallen. “The detection of more events such as SN 2020tlf will dramatically affect how we define the final months of stellar evolution, uniting observers and theorists to solve the mystery of how massive stars spend the final moments of their lives.” Huh.”

the study was supported by NASA, National Science Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Willam Fonden.

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