Super-Luminous Supernova: Explosion of Star Bigger Than Our Sun Detected

The most powerful supernova ever spotted has been observed by astronomers from the US. The event has been documented in the journal Science.

Artist's impression of the supernova seen from an imaginary planet 10,000 light years away. Photo credits: BEIJING PLANETARIUM.
Artist’s impression of the supernova seen from an imaginary planet 10,000 light years away. Photo credits: BEIJING PLANETARIUM.

A star brighter than our sun – the Universe is full of similar heavenly bodies, but, humans actually observing an exploding one of such magnitude is a big deal indeed. The exploding star, first seen in June 2015, has been radiating great amounts of energy. Its brightness has earned it the nickname “super-luminous supernova”. Its observation was made when it was situated at around 3.8 billion light years from us.

To fully appreciate the greatness of the supernova, hear this out: the explosion was 200 times stronger than your usual supernova such that it shone with a brightness 570 times more pronounced than our Sun’s. The mass of the original star must have been around 50 to 100 times greater than the latter.

Researchers attribute its powerful nature to a dense and magnetised object known as magnetar that has allegedly been boosting its explosive activities. The magnetar is believed to have been created as the supernova got more active.

Its occurrence has been described by professor Christopher Kochanek (one of the authors) from Ohio State University: according to him, it is very compact, and might be comparable in size to our Sun; its outward expansion has a speed of around 10,000 km/s.

This type of monster explosions is claimed to have an important impact on the Universe as a whole. Scientists explain that they are behind the production of heavy chemical elements. Furthermore, the resulting shockwaves emanating from the explosion mix gas and dust that will eventually become the next generation of stars.

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