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Kepler Beyond Planets: Finding Exploding Stars

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Kepler Beyond Planets: Finding Exploding Stars

Post by Dragon on Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:03 pm

Stellar explosions forge and distribute materials that make up the world in which we live, and also hold clues to how fast the universe is expanding. By understanding supernovae, scientists can unlock mysteries that are key to what we are made of and the fate of our universe. But to get the full picture, scientists must observe supernovae from a variety of perspectives, especially in the first moments of the explosion. That’s really difficult -- there’s no telling when or where a supernova might happen next.

A small group of astronomers, including Shaya, realized Kepler could offer a new technique for supernova-hunting. Launched in 2009, Kepler is best known for having discovered thousands of exoplanets. But as a telescope that stares at single patches of space for long periods of time, it can capture a vast trove of other cosmic treasures --especially the kind that change rapidly or pop in and out of view, like supernovae.

“Kepler opened up a new way of looking at the sky,” said Jessie Dotson, Kepler’s project scientist, based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “It was designed to do one thing really well, which was to find planets around other stars. In order to do that, it had to deliver high-precision, continuous data, which has been valuable for other areas of astronomy.”

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Re: Kepler Beyond Planets: Finding Exploding Stars

Post by Dragon on Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:04 pm



This animation shows a kind of stellar explosion called a Fast-Evolving Luminous Transient. In this case, a giant star “burps” out a shell of gas and dust about a year before exploding. Most of the energy from the supernova turns into light when it hits this previously ejected material, resulting in a short, but brilliant burst of radiation.

 
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Re: Kepler Beyond Planets: Finding Exploding Stars

Post by Dragon on Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:05 pm



Type Ia Supernova from a White Dwarf Stealing Matter. This animation shows the explosion of a white dwarf, an extremely dense remnant of a star that can no longer burn nuclear fuel at its core. In this “type Ia” supernova, white dwarf’s gravity steals material away from a nearby stellar companion. When the white dwarf reaches an estimated 1.4 times the current mass of the Sun, it can no longer sustain its own weight, and blows up.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 
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Re: Kepler Beyond Planets: Finding Exploding Stars

Post by Dragon on Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:06 pm



This animation shows the merger of two white dwarfs. A white dwarf is an extremely dense remnant of a star that can no longer burn nuclear fuel at its core. This is another way that a “type Ia” supernova occurs.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 
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Re: Kepler Beyond Planets: Finding Exploding Stars

Post by Dragon on Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:06 pm



This animation shows a gigantic star exploding in a “core collapse” supernova.
As molecules fuse inside the star, eventually the star can’t support its own weight anymore. Gravity makes the star collapse on itself. Core collapse supernovae are called type Ib, Ic, or II depending on the chemical elements present.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 
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