An international team of astronomers led by Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) has made a bizarre discovery; a star that refuses to stop shining.
Supernovae, the explosions of stars, have been observed in the thousands and in all cases, they marked the death of a star. But in a study published last year in the journal Nature, the team discovered a remarkable exception; a star that exploded multiple times over a period of more than fifty years. Their observations, which include data from Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii, are challenging existing theories on these cosmic catastrophes.
The supernova, named iPTF14hls, was discovered in September of 2014 by the Palomar Transient Factory. At the time, it looked like an ordinary supernova. Several months later, LCO astronomers noticed the supernova was growing brighter again after it had faded. When astronomers went back and looked at archival data, they were astonished to find evidence of an explosion in 1954 at the same location. This star somehow survived that explosion and exploded again in 2014.
“This supernova breaks everything we thought we knew about how they work. It’s the biggest puzzle I’ve encountered in almost a decade of studying stellar explosions,” said lead author Iair Arcavi, a NASA Einstein postdoctoral fellow at LCO and the University of California Santa Barbara.
Supernova iPTF14hls may be the first example of a “Pulsational Pair Instability Supernova”. “According to this theory, it is possible that this was the result of star so massive and hot that it generated antimatter in its core,” said co-author Daniel Kasen, an associate professor in the Physics and Astronomy Departments at UC Berkeley and a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. “That would cause the star to go violently unstable, and undergo repeated bright eruptions over periods of years”. That process may even repeat over decades before the star’s large final explosion and collapse to a black hole. (1)
Like that star we are dying (changing) every passing moment.
And we are re-born again the very next moment we speak again…
We die every time we stop speaking…
Only to be reborn the next time we feel the cosmos again…
The universe seems dark and calm.
But it is full of violence and destruction.
Full of life and creation.
The cosmos seems dark, with tiny specks of light.
And yet the cosmos is just light.
With a large shroud of darkness covering everything.
Our existence seems agonizing and full of sorrow.
And yet it is only happiness.
Cloaked under a dark veil of matter not allowing the light to burst out…
Don’t feel awe for that star exploding.
It feels greater awe.
By just watching you watching…