Feeds

Hubble boffins: Incredibly old supernova could explain EVERYTHING

Might also answer poser: 'If supernovae were popcorn...'

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

NASA's Hubble telescope has spotted the most distant massive star explosion of its kind ever, one which could help boffins understand the very fabric of the universe.

Hubble view of supernova SN Wilson

The telescope picked out Supernova UDS10Wil, also known as SN Wilson, in the night sky. The star apparently blew up over 10 billion years ago, and the resulting light from the explosion took that long to reach Earth.

Wilson is in the special class of Type Ia supernovae, which give astroboffins a consistent level of brightness that can be used to measure the expansion of space and also help with deductions about the nature of dark energy.

"This new distance record holder opens a window into the early universe, offering important new insights into how these stars explode," said astronomer David Jones of Johns Hopkins University, lead author on the paper detailing the discovery.

The find is only four per cent more distant than the last record holder, though that's still 350 million years farther back in time. Discovering Type Ia supernovae this early in the universe's life allows astroboffins to figure out which of two competing explosion models are correct. In one model, the explosion is caused by two white dwarf stars merging and in another, one white dwarf feeds off its partner, a normal star, until it greedily accretes too much mass and explodes.

"If supernovae were popcorn, the question is how long before they start popping?" Adam Riess of Space Telescope Science Institute asked. "You may have different theories about what is going on in the kernel. If you see when the first kernels popped and how often they popped, it tells you something important about the process of popping corn."

The evidence so far shows a sharp decline in the rate of Type Ia supernova blasts roughly 7.5 billion years ago and more than 10 billion years ago. The drop-off favours the theory that the explosions are caused by white dwarfs merging, because it predicts that most stars in the early universe are too young to become Type Ia supernovae.

Figuring out the trigger for these explosions will also show how quickly the universe enriched itself with heavier elements such as iron, one of the raw materials for building planets and life.

The team's results will be published in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.