Should A 10 Week Old Baby Be Out In Winter The Kepler Space Telescope’s Supernova Surprise

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The Kepler Space Telescope’s Supernova Surprise

Supernovae are stellar explosions that herald the death of stars, and they can be so bright that they can briefly outshine their entire host galaxy. A particular class of supernovae, called Type Iaproved to be a critical tool in the important discovery of the dark energy–a mysterious force that causes the Universe to accelerate in its expansion, and constitutes the lion’s share of the mass-energy component of the Cosmos. However, the process that triggers Type Ia supernovae conflagrations remained an enigma of Cosmic proportions. However, astronomers announced at the January 2014 winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), held outside Washington in National Harbor, Maryland, that NASA is on an ill-fated, but very successful, planet-hunt. Kepler space telescope had succeeded in the surprising discovery of two Type Ia supernovae explosions that shed fascinating light on their mysterious origins.

The Kepler mission was the first space telescope to be launched that could detect Earth-sized exoplanets in our Galactic neighborhood located in their stars. habitable zones. More than 75% of the 3,500 exoplanet candidates spotted by Kepler sports sizes ranging from that of the Earth to that of Neptune.

The habitable zone around a star is that “just” Goldilocks region where water, in its life-loving liquid state, can exist on an orbiting world. Where liquid water exists, life as we know it can also evolve! This doesn’t mean that life definitely exists on such a happy watery world — but it does mean that the possibility exists.

Keplerlaunched on March 7, 2009, from Cape Canaveral, Florida had, as its primary mission, the task of staring at more than 100,000 stars, hunting for small dips in their brightness caused by transiting planets Keplerspecial-purpose spacecraft, was designed to precisely measure those tiny changes in the light of those distant stars, looking for extraterrestrial planets causing subtle dips in their bright, fiery light.

During all four years of its mission, Kepler continuously stared at one patch of sky, collecting brightness measurements every half hour. Sometimes the telescope happened to spot slight dips in a star’s brightness, indicating that planets had transit —that is, passed before — the bright face of a parent star. Unfortunately, the Kepler mission came to a premature end when a piece of its equipment failed in May 2013.

In late 2009, Dr. Robert Olling, an astronomer at the University of Maryland in College Park, began to think about what Kepler maybe it could do if it also rotated to gaze at galaxies. Dr. Olling, who studies supernovae and black holes, noted that, like stars, galaxies shine with relatively consistent brightnesses. However, in the event of some unusual event — such as the feeding frenzy of a voracious black hole, or the deadly explosion of a giant star — a galaxy’s brightness could be greatly enhanced. After Dr. Olling and two of his colleagues, Dr. Richard Mushotsky and Dr. Edward Shaya, also from the University of Maryland, presented a proposal to the Kepler team, the telescope took a look at 400 galaxies dancing around in its field of view.

What a Blast!

Most supernovae explode when an isolated, lonely star explodes and “dies”. Often, the supernova progenitor is a heavy star, with a massive core weighing about 1.4 solar masses. This is what is called the Chandrasekhar border. Smaller, less massive stars — like our own Sun — usually don’t perish in the bright violence of explosive supernova explosions, like their more massive stellar relatives. Small stars, like our Sun, go much more “gently into that good night”, and perish in relative peace–and great beauty. Our Sun, at this moment, is very ordinary and quite small (by stellar standards), main sequence (hydrogen-burning) star. It appears in our daytime sky as a large, enchanting, brilliantly shining golden sphere. There are eight large planets, a host of magical moons, and a rich assortment of other, smaller bodies in orbit around our Sun, which lives happily in the far suburbs of a great, majestic, streaked-breathing Galaxy, our Milky Way. Our Sun will not live forever. Like all stars, it is doomed, someday–but, in the case of our Sun, not for very long. A star, of the relatively small mass of our Sun, can “live” for about 10 billion years, happily fusing the hydrogen of its core into heavier atomic elements, in a process called stellar nucleosynthesis.

However, our Sun is not currently a bouncing baby star. In fact, it is a middle-aged star. However, it is experiencing an active middle life, and is still abundant enough to continue merrily fusing hydrogen in its core for another 5 billion years, or so. Our Sun is currently about 4.56 billion years old–it’s not young by stellar standards, but it’s not exactly old either.

When stars like our Sun have finally managed to fuse most of their supply of hydrogen, they begin to grow into glowing, bloated bodies. red giant stars. The now old Sun-like star carries a heart of helium, surrounded by a shell in which hydrogen is still fused into helium. The shell blows itself up outwards, and the star’s dying heart grows ever larger as the star ages. Then the helium heart itself begins to shrink under its own weight, and it gets hotter and hotter until, finally, it has become so burning hot in its center that the helium now fuses into the still heavier atomic element, carbon. The Sun-like, small star ends up with a small, extremely hot heart that emits more energy than it did, long ago, when it was younger. main sequence a star The outer layers of the old, dying star swelled to hideous proportions. In our own Solar System, when our Sun finally left Red giant, it will cannibalize some of its own planetary children–first Mercury, then Venus–and then (perhaps), Earth. The temperature at the flaming surface of this terrible Red giant will be considerably cooler than when our Sun was still enchanting, young, vibrant main sequence little, little Star!

The relatively gentle deaths of small stars, like our Sun, are characterized by the gentle blowing of their outer layers of bright, multi-colored gases, and these objects are so astonishingly beautiful that they are often called the “butterflies of the Cosmos.” ” of bewitched astronomers.

Our Sun will die like this – with relative peace and great beauty. That’s because our Sun is lonely. The Sun’s corpse will be a small, dense stellar remnant called a white dwarfand its shroud will be a shining Cosmic “butterfly”.

However, something very different happens when a small sun-type star resides in a binary system with another sister star. The sister star rudely interferes with its sibling’s precious, peaceful solitude, and in this case the dying star goes supernova — just like its more massive stellar relative when they reach the end of the stellar path.

Super New Surprise!

Kepler data revealed at least five–and possibly eight–supernovae over a two-year period. At least two of them have been identified as Type Ia, and their light was captured in greater temporal detail than ever before. This new information adds credibility to the theory that Type Ia supernovae result from the merger of two white dwarfs–the Earth-sized, extremely dense remnants of Sun-like stars. This new discovery casts doubt on the older, long-held model Type Ia supernovae are the result of isolation white dwarf drinking material from a fellow sister star–and victim. The companion star could be either a main sequence A sun-like star, or old man, swelled red giant

This new information was the surprising discovery of Kepler–whose main purpose was to hunt for extraterrestrial planets by looking at stars in our Galactic neighborhood. Distant galaxies also danced around in the space telescope’s field of view, and its success in collecting data every half hour, along with its sensitivity to very small changes in brightness, made it ideal for recording the rise and fall of light sent out during supernova explosions. .

Dr. Olling was lucky enough to spot the duo of Type Ia supernovae after a two-year study of approximately 400 galaxies in that of Kepler field He reported his discovery on January 8, 2014, at the winter meeting of the AAS. “As a technical tour de force, it’s really cool to use Kepler for more than it was intended,” Dr. Robert P. Kirshner told the press at the AAS meeting. Dr. Kirshner is an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In certain ways the data collected is rudimentary. This is because they are composed only of the brightness measurements, so astronomers cannot calculate details such as the two structures of the pair of Type Ia explosions, and the chemical composition of what they forcibly threw into Space. Kepler also sent data back to Earth only once every three months. Because supernovae dim after several weeks of brightness, astronomers have been unable to point other telescopes at the supernovae that Kepler spotted to collect more perfect observations.

Type Ia explosions are the most commonly observed form of supernovae. that of Kepler data provided a valuable clue as to what triggers these stellar explosions. The Kepler data help astronomers distinguish between the two competing supernova scenarios. Both require that a white dwarf accumulates stellar material from a companion, until the pressure sets off an unbridled thermonuclear explosion. However, in the companion model, the expanding shell of material from the white dwarf would crash into the sister star. This would give off extra heat and light — that would appear as a bulge in the first few days of a supernova’s glow. However, no such swelling was seen in Dr. Olling’s data.

This basically excludes red giant companions, Dr. Olling explained at the AAS meeting, because these big, bloated, old stars would cause a nice big bang. However, the data could still be consistent with the model of smaller, more Sun-like companions, Dr. Daniel Kassen noted to the press on January 14, 2014. Dr. Kassen is an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, and collaborator with Dr. Olling on the investigation. Not only would these relatively small stars cause a smaller bulge, but the bulge could be completely overlooked depending on the observer’s viewpoint, Dr. Kassen continued to explain.

For a long time, the model of Type Ia supernovae being caused by fusion white dwarfs was not particularly popular among astronomers because the final stages of the mergers probably occur very slowly – over the course of thousands of years. Such a gradual accumulation of material would more likely lead to the creation of a neutron star However, in 2010, simulations indicated that such mergers could happen much faster – within seconds or minutes, and that would account for the dramatic, sudden pressure change that triggers such an explosion.

However, there may be some problems with the merge scenario. Dr. Craig Wheeler noted in the January 14, 2014 issue of Nature News that simulations of the mergers often show very asymmetric explosions — however, so far observations seem to be more spherical. Dr. Wheeler is a supernova theorist at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Olling believes that it is important to make simultaneous observations using terrestrial ‘scopes. This is because Kepler can only record brightness and cannot divide light into spectra. However, to do so, Kepler must be pointed in the opposite direction. Dr. Olling hopes that the Kepler team will allow that when NASA reveals its future plans for the crippled spacecraft during the summer of 2014.

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