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Runaway Anti-Matter Production Makes for a Spectacular Stellar Explosion

ScienceDaily (Jan. 5, 2010) — University of Notre Dame astronomer Peter Garnavich and a team of collaborators have discovered a distant star that exploded when its center became so hot that matter and anti-matter particle pairs were created. The star, dubbed Y-155, began its life around 200 times the mass of our Sun but probably became "pair-unstable" and triggered a runaway thermonuclear reaction that made it visible nearly halfway across the universe.

Garnavich and his collaborators discovered the exploding star during the "ESSENCE" supernova search that identified over 200 weaker stellar explosions.

"ESSENCE found many explosions in our 6 years of searching, but Y-155 stood out as the most powerful and unusual of all our discoveries," says Garnavich.

Y-155 exploded about 7 billion years ago, when the universe was half its current age. It was discovered in the constellation Cetus (just south of Pisces) with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory's (NOAO) 4-m Blanco telescope in Chile in November of 2007 during the last weeks of the six-year ESSENCE project. The Keck 10-m telescope in Hawaii, the 6.5-m Magellan telescope in Chile, and the MMT telescope in Arizona rapidly focused on the new star, revealing that the wavelengths of light emitted from the supernova were stretched or "redshifted" by 80% due to the expansion of the universe.

{and so on. Follow the link. BOOM!!!!}


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)
That's an amazing bit of news. Now if only we could get off our backsides and get Out There to find out what other surprises this universe has.
Jan. 11th, 2010 06:52 am (UTC)
I'm floored by the number of things we are finding just by looking from Earth Orbit - like all those exoplanets. Even pulsars with planets. Multiple pulsars.. with multiple planets yet! Weird enough to find one. Once again we don't know as much as we thought we did. When I grew up we thought we would have to find planets by going to stars and looking. By the time we can get there, we are going to know exactly where to go first!

Of course we don't even have to leave the solar system to have an awful lot of elbow room - there's all the cubic we could want out there awaiting our ability to build environments.

In any case, the way we're finding things now I do believe it's not going to be as long as we feared before in-system travel is as "obvious" as GPS, weather satellites, broadcast satellites et al are now. I hope so - I can think of a few surprises we do not want to encounter before we can move around. Heinlein was quite right about the Earth being too small and fragile a basket for humanity to keep all its eggs in.

Edited at 2010-01-11 06:53 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )