Nav: Home

Volunteers help ANU find star that exploded 970 million years ago, predating the dinosaurs

May 24, 2017

Online volunteers, including a woman from Belgium and a Scottish man, have helped astronomers at The Australian National University (ANU) find a star that exploded 970 million years ago, predating the dinosaurs' time on Earth.

ANU has invited everyone with an interest in astronomy to join the University's search for exploding stars called supernovae, which scientists can use to measure the Universe and acceleration of its growth.

Co-lead researcher Dr Brad Tucker said his team was able to confirm a previously unknown object was a real exploding star in just a day, thanks to the efficiency and dedication of volunteer supernovae hunters - more than 700 of them.

"The supernova is about 970 million light years away, meaning that it exploded before the dinosaurs were even on the Earth," said Dr Tucker from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA).

"This is the exact type of supernova we're looking for - type Ia supernova - to measure properties of and distances across the Universe."

Among the amateur co-discoverers are Alan Craggs from Aberdeenshire in Scotland and Elisabeth Baeten from Belgium.

Seven potential supernovae have been reported to the Transient Name Server.

"We are tracking 18 other possible exploding stars," Dr Tucker said.

Co-lead researcher Dr Anais Möller said the Ia supernova discovered through the ANU project had already been named.

"Supernovae have boring names - it's called SN2017dxh," said Dr Möller from RSAA.

"We are recognising volunteers by listing the first three people to find a previously unknown supernova in the discovery when we report it to the International Astronomical Union.

"In the first 24 hours we had over 30,000 classifications. We've almost reached 40,000 classifications, with more than 1,300 images classified, since the launch of our project."

Astrophysicists use supernovae, which are explosions as bright as 100 million billion billion billion lightning bolts, as light sources to measure how the Universe is growing and better understand dark energy, the cause of the Universe's acceleration.

Scientists can measure the distance of a supernova from Earth by calculating how much the light from the exploding star fades.

The ANU project allows citizen scientists to use a web portal on Zooniverse.org to search images taken by the SkyMapper 1.3-metre telescope at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory for the SkyMapper Transient Survey.

Citizen volunteers scan the SkyMapper images online to look for differences and mark up those differences for the researchers to follow up.

SkyMapper is the only telescope that is doing a comprehensive survey of the southern sky looking for supernovae and other interesting transient events at these distances.

Watch a video interview with Dr Brad Tucker about the project: youtu.be/NzSG9Ax_e_s

People can to participate in the ANU citizen science project at http://www.zooniverse.org/projects/skymap/supernova-sighting to join the search for exploding stars.
-end-
FOR INTERVIEW:

Dr Brad Tucker
ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics
P: +61 2 6125 6711
M: +61 433 905 777
E: Brad.Tucker@anu.edu.au

Dr Anais Möller
ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics
P: +61 2 6125 8915
M: +61 422 348 538
E: Anais.Moller@anu.edu.au

FOR MEDIA ASSISTANCE:

Will Wright
ANU Media Team
P: +61 2 6125 7979
M: +61 478 337 740
E: media@anu.edu.au

Australian National University

Related Supernova Articles:

Supernova observation first of its kind using NASA satellite
Their research, detailed in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, represents the first published findings about a supernova observed using TESS, and add new insights to long-held theories about the elements left behind after a white dwarf star explodes into a supernova.
Astronomers find possible elusive star behind supernova
Astronomers may have finally found a doomed star that seemed to have avoided detection before its explosive death.
Stellar thief is the surviving companion to a supernova
Hubble found the most compelling evidence that some supernovas originate in double-star systems.
Supernova may have 'burped' before exploding
Only by increasing the rate at which telescopes monitor the sky has it been possible to catch more Fast-Evolving Luminous Transients (FELTs) and begin to understand them.
An unusual white dwarf may be a supernova leftover
Astronomers have identified a white dwarf star in our galaxy that may be the leftover remains of a recently discovered type of supernova.
Researchers show how to make your own supernova
Researchers from the University of Oxford are using the largest, most intense lasers on the planet, to for the first time, show the general public how to recreate the effects of supernovae, in a laboratory.
The big star that couldn't become a supernova
For the first time in history, astronomers have been able to watch as a dying star was reborn as a black hole.
Seeing quadruple: Four images of the same supernova, a rare find
Galaxies bend light through an effect called gravitational lensing that helps astronomers peer deeper into the cosmos.
Explosive material: The making of a supernova
Pre-supernova stars may show signs of instability for months before the big explosion
Search for stellar survivor of a supernova explosion
Astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to observe the remnant of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
More Supernova News and Supernova Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.