There is a star in the sky. Betelgeuse was named a "red supergiant" because it has grown in size over millions of years. A dramatic explosion called a supernova will be caused by Betelgeuse, which is 500 light-years from Earth.
Astronomers had never seen a star explode. Astronomers on Maui used a powerful telescope in 2020 to detect a red supergiant that was much more distant than Betelgeuse. They watched it closely for 130 days, giving them a good view of the grand finale. The explosion is called "supernova 2020tlf".
The astronomer who led the research told Mashable that they saw the star erupt. It's been something we wanted to find.
The research was published in a journal.
The star violently erupted.
There's no "close-up" footage of the explosion of this star, which happened well beyond our Milky Way. Stars well beyond our galaxy are usually visible through our telescopes. The explosion was imminent and the astronomer used specialized equipment at the W.M. Keck Observatory to observe it.
The blast was very loud even in a distant universe. "It takes just one star to beat all the other stars in the universe," said Jacobson-Galn.
The animation below was made to better visualize the event. Here's what you're seeing.
The astronomer detected the active star when the star emits bursts of heat and radiation.
The collapse of the star is violent. This is a supernova.
The cloud of dust, gas, and elements expand into space after the exploded star.
The violent ends of the great gaseous orbs are caused by the collapse of massive and expanding stars. Iron is manufactured inside the most massive stars, and the ensuing eruptions scatter the critical elements throughout space. Silver, gold, and lead are only created in extreme conditions during the blast.
NASA says that life would not be possible without supernovae. Our ability to breath is dependent on the iron in our blood. Oxygen is needed in our atmosphere to breathe. Nitrogen improves our planet's soil. Without the elements created in stars and supernova explosions, Earth would be very different.
Astronomers thought red supergiant stars were quiet before they collapsed. The star emitted bright heat and energy before the blast.
Calculating how stars behave before they go supernova and scatter essential elements into the universe is one of the things that Jacobson-Galn and others will continue to investigate. It is a thrilling scientific endeavor.
"It's like watching a bomb go off," said an astronomer.