December 1, 2022

Quick Action Let Hubble Watch the Earliest Stages of an Unfolding Supernova Detonation

Just recently, a team of researchers utilized Hubble data, together with other observations, to provide us an in-depth view of the start of completion of one huge star going supernova. Its called SN 2020fqv, and its about 60 million light-years away in whats known as the Interacting Butterfly Galaxies (NGC 4567 and NGC 4568.).
The team published their findings in a paper titled “Progenitor and close-in Circumstellar Medium of Type II Supernova 2020fqv from high-cadence photometry and ultra-rapid UV spectroscopy.” Its released in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The lead author is Samaporn Tinyanont, a post-Doctoral scholar at UC Santa Cruz.
The exploding star was very first spotted by the Zwicky Transient Facility, and astronomers likewise recognized that NASAs TESS (Transient Exoplanet Survey Satellite) was observing the supernova, which occurred to be in the satellites active observing location. While both these facilities are proficient at finding things like supernovae, theyre not excellent at studying them in detail. (TESSs primary task is discovering exoplanets, however its spotted numerous supernovae. In a paper published a year ago, astronomers anticipated that TESS might play a role in spotting a supernova in these early stages of destruction.) Supernovae surges are a big deal in the astronomy/astrophysics world, so astronomers hurried to point the Hubble and other ground-based facilities at SN 2020fqv.
The space telescope captured its very first spectrum of the CSM just 26 hours after the star exploded. That product was blown away from the star in its last days, and all of these observations helped astronomers comprehend what occurs to a supernova just before it passes away.
” We hardly ever get to examine this extremely close-in circumstellar material because it is just noticeable for a very brief time, and we typically do not start observing a supernova till a minimum of a few days after the explosion,” explained lead author Tinyanont in a news release. “For this supernova, we were able to make ultra-rapid observations with Hubble, providing unprecedented protection of the area best next to the star that took off.”.
This figure from the study provides an observational timeline of SN 2020fqv. Keep in mind the big amount of TESS observations and the first spectrum just 26 hours after the surge. TESS observed the supernova before its discovery due to the fact that TESS happened to be pointed in that direction already. STIS is Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph; COS is Cosmic Origin Spectrograph; HST ToO is Hubble Space Telescope Target of Opportunity.
Enormous stars shed a lot of mass near the ends of their lives. And various processes like stellar winds, instabilities in the nuclear burning inside the star itself, and interactions with any binary buddies create those distinctions.
Theres unpredictability around how all those processes play out in a supernova, and its a crucial area of research study in astrophysics. SN 2020fqv is offering astrophysicists an opportunity to study how all those processes shape the CSM, which in turn tells them a lot about the progenitor star, including its internal structure and its origins.
Hubble observations of SN 2020fqv go back to the 90s and the group utilized that data in their research study. TESS has actually also been observing the supernova, and its observations return to numerous days prior to the surge. TESS took images of the star every half an hour throughout of the explosion and for a number of weeks afterward. As soon as astronomers detected the supernova blowing up, they pointed the Hubble at it too. With years of information in hand, plus new comprehensive observations of the circumstellar material around the star, the team of scientists produced a years-long record of the supernova explosion process.
These TESS images from the research study show some of the sleuthing work that entered into the research study. The image goes through decrease phases from raw to difference images. The raw image shows the existence of detector straps and all of the spread light due to TESSs orientation at the time of the image. The background image is an instrument background image still showing the straps and the scattered light. The background subtracted image reveals the sky, and the distinction image uses a pre-explosion image to deduct the supernovas host galaxy, leaving just SN 2020fqv inside a red circle. Image Credit: Tinyanont et al 2021.
” We utilized to discuss supernova work like we were criminal offense scene investigators, where we would show up after the truth and try to determine what occurred to that star,” explained Ryan Foley of the University of California, Santa Cruz, the leader of the team that made this discovery. “This is a different circumstance due to the fact that we actually understand whats going on and we really see the death in real-time.”.
” Now we have this whole story about whats happening to the star in the years prior to it died, through the time of death, and then the consequences of that,” said Foley. “This is actually the most detailed view of stars like this in their last moments and how they explode.”.
A vital fact in the research study of supernovae, or any stars, is their mass. Understanding a supernovas mass is vital to comprehending the supernova procedure itself.
Due to the fact that theres so much data on SN 2020fqv, especially the information on conditions instantly following the explosion, the group is referring to the supernova as a Rosetta Stone.
” People utilize the term Rosetta Stone a lot. This is the first time weve been able to confirm the mass with these three different approaches for one supernova, and all of them are consistent,” said Tinyanont. “Now we can push forward utilizing these different methods and combining them due to the fact that there are a lot of other supernovae where we have masses from one method however not another.”.
Artistic impression of a star going supernova, casting its chemically enriched contents into the universe. Credit: NASA/Swift/Skyworks Digital/Dana Berry.
If SN 2020fqv is a Rosetta Stone of sorts, then it could serve as a caution for when other stars go supernova. In the years leading up to a supernova explosion, the star becomes more active.
” This could be a warning system,” stated Foley. “So if you see a star start to shake around a bit, begin acting up, then possibly we must pay more attention and actually try to comprehend whats going on there prior to it blows up. As we find more and more of these supernovae with this sort of excellent information set, well be able to understand much better whats happening in the last few years of a stars life.”.
SN 2020fqv is a core-collapse supernova (CCSN). Its a Type II-P which is the most typical sub-type of CCSNs. The P in the name implies plateau. It refers to how their light curves plateau for a time period post-explosion, which sets them apart from other Type II supernovae. Their commonality hasnt led to a really complete understanding. Recent observations of Type II-Ps have revealed unusual phenomena that our current models cant discuss.
This work, which is especially knowledgeable thanks to high-cadence observations by TESS, could help discuss a few of those phenomena. It definitely reveals, according to the authors, that theres more complexity in the late-stage evolution of enormous stars than we believed.
The upcoming Vera Rubin Observatory should supply a big boost to our understanding of supernovae like SN 2020fqv. “… the Vera Rubin Observatory will be able to produce multi-band light curves of all SNe II-P out to about 400 Mpc, permitting for a truly systematic study of CSM interactions around SNe II-P,” the authors compose in their conclusion.
This study involves some luck. The Hubble information on SN 2020fqv goes back years, and both that data and the quick-response observations by Hubble helped make this work possible.
The Vera Rubin Telescope, and other upcoming centers, might outperform the Hubble in lots of methods. However individuals who developed and developed the Hubble and pressed the task along are revealing that their foresight continues to pay dividends.
Our growing understanding of supernovae, and of numerous other phenomena, reveals that Hubbles contribution is still vital.
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, if it werent for supernova remnants we wouldnt have much knowledge of supernovae themselves.. We can also thank forensic astrophysics for much of our knowledge if a supernova surge is the end of a stars life. The enormous exploding stars leave mesmerizing and behind brilliant proof of their devastating ends, and much of what we understand about supernovae originates from studying the remnants instead of the surges themselves. Supernova residues like the Crab Nebula and SN 1604 (Keplers Supernova) are some of our most-studied objects.
Observing an active supernova in the grip of its own destruction can be tough. However it looks like the Hubble Space Telescope depends on the job.

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If it werent for supernova remnants we would not have much understanding of supernovae themselves. If a supernova surge is the end of a stars life, then we can also thank forensic astrophysics for much of our understanding. The huge exploding stars leave mesmerizing and behind fantastic evidence of their devastating ends, and much of what we understand about supernovae comes from studying the remnants rather than the surges themselves. Supernova remnants like the Crab Nebula and SN 1604 (Keplers Supernova) are some of our most-studied objects.
Comprehending a supernovas mass is critical to understanding the supernova process itself.

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