The extinct giant star explodes as scientists look at it in real time. The first for astronomy
The death of a star is one of the most dramatic events in space - and astronomers were able to observe the explosion of a star for the first time in real time.
Earth-based telescopes provided the first real-time view of the death of a red supergiant star. While these are not the brightest or most massive stars, they are the largest in terms of volume.
A known red supergiant star is Betelgeuse, located in the galaxy NGC 5731 about 120 million light-years from Earth, was 10 times more massive than the sun before it erupted.
Scientists saw the star self-destructively before collapsing into a Type II supernova.
Last moments of stellar death
Astronomers first reported the star's unusual activity 130 days before it became a supernova. Bright radiation was discovered in the summer of 2020 by the Pan-STARRS telescope of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Haleakala in Maui.
Then, in the fall of that year, researchers witnessed a supernova in the same place.
They observed it using the low-resolution image spectrometer of the KeM Keck Observatory in Maunakea, Hawai'i and named it the 2020tlf supernova. Their observations revealed that there was material around the star when it exploded - the bright gas that the star forcibly removed from itself during the summer.
Some of these massive stars are likely to experience consequent internal changes that trigger the roaring release of gas before they die, the finding has shown.