Nav: Home

Subaru Telescope captures 1800 exploding stars

May 30, 2019

By combining one of the world's most powerful digital cameras and a telescope capable of capturing a wider shot of the night sky compared to other big telescopes, a team of researchers from Japan have been able to identify about 1800 new supernovae, including 58 Type Ia supernovae 8 billion light years away, reports a new study released online on 30 May.

A supernova is the name given to an exploding star that has reached the end of its life. The star often becomes as bright as its host galaxy, shining one billion times brighter than the Sun for anytime between a month to six months before dimming down. Supernova classed as Type Ia are useful because their constant maximum brightness allows researchers to calculate how far the star is from Earth. This is particularly useful for researchers who want to measure the expansion of the Universe.

In recent years, researchers began reporting a new type of supernovae five to ten times brighter than Type Ia supernovae. Named Super Luminous Supernovae, many have been trying to learn more about these stars. Their unusual brightness enables researchers to spot stars in the farthest parts of the Universe usually too faint to observe. Since distant Universe means the early Universe, studying this kind of star could reveal characteristics about the first, massive stars created after the Big Bang.

But supernovae are rare events, and there are only a handful of telescopes in the world capable of capturing sharp images of distant stars. In order to maximize the chances of observing a supernova, a team led by Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) Professor Naoki Yasuda, and researchers from Tohoku University, Konan University, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, School of Science, the University of Tokyo, and Kyoto University, used the Subaru Telescope.

This telescope is capable of generating shape stellar images, and the Hyper Suprime-Cam, an 870 mega-pixel digital camera attached at its top, captures a very wide area of the night sky in one shot.

By taking repeated images of the same area of night sky over a six month period, the researchers could identify new supernovae by looking for stars that suddenly appeared brighter before gradually fading out.

As a result, the team identified 5 super luminous supernovae, and about 400 Type Ia supernovae. Fifty-eight of these Type Ia supernovae were located more than 8 billion light years away from Earth. In comparison, it took researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope about 10 years to discover a total of 50 supernovae located more than 8 billion light years away from Earth.

"The Subaru Telescope and Hyper Suprime-Cam have already helped researchers create a 3D map of dark matter, and observation of primordial black holes, but now this result proves that this instrument has a very high capability finding supernovae very, very far away from Earth. I want to thank all of my collaborators for their time and effort, and look forward to analyzing our data to see what kind of picture of the Universe it holds," said Yasuda.

The next step will be to use the data to calculate a more accurate expansion of the Universe, and to study how dark energy has changed over time.

Details of the study were published by the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.

Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe

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

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at