Shedding new light on star death: A new class of super-luminous supernovae
Astronomers at Queen’s University Belfast have shed new light on the rarest and brightest exploding stars ever discovered in the universe. The research is published tomorrow in Nature. It proposes that the most luminous supernovae – exploding stars – are powered by small and incredibly dense neutron stars, with gigantic magnetic fields that spin hundreds of times a second.
Scientists at Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre observed two super-luminous supernovae – two of the Universe’s brightest exploding stars – for more than a year. Contrary to existing theories, which suggested that the brightest supernovae are caused by super-massive stars exploding, their findings suggest that their origins may be better explained by a type of explosion within the star’s core which creates a smaller but extremely dense and rapidly spinning magnetic star.
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Image: A neutron star. Credit: NASA.