Thursday, August 13, 2009

First Ever Observed Hypernova?

Supernovae, or stars that undergo a massive explosion, are extremely important in physics. Other then that fact that exploding stars are intrinsically cool, supernovae have many practical scientific uses such as determining distances in the universe.

Supernovae are also classified in several different ways. The most common are Types Ia, Ib, Ic and II. However, two new papers that hit ths arXivs today suggest a new type of supernova, called a hypernova, has just been discovered.

The paper 2003bg: The First Type IIb Hypernova linked above has this to say:
A signature of a high kinetic energy (more precisely, high kinetic energy per unit mass) is a spectrum with broad lines (Iwamoto et al. 1998, for example); in those cases where the total kinetic energy of expansion is shown to indeed be very high, the object has been dubbed a “hypernova.”...

Here we present optical and near-infrared observations obtained of SN 2003bg in the course of the “Carnegie Type II Supernova Survey” (CATS, hereafter). These data reveal that SN 2003bg is one of the first broad-lined SNe IIb ever observed...

Detailed modeling of this supernova based on our data is presented in the accompanying paper by Mazzali et al. (2009), confirming the conclusion that SN 2003bg had very high kinetic energy of expansion and thus can legitimately be classified as a hypernova.
Just remember, as you read future text books, magazines and newspapers that one day may talk about things such as hypernovae, you heard about the first one ever discovered from this blog. :)

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