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Most Powerful Supernova Ever Detected


Astrophysicists have detected the most powerful supernova ever, 200 times more powerful than a typical supernova. The light, Science News reports, from the exploding star is around 570 billion times as bright as the Earth’s Sun. It is thought the particular star collapsed into a highly-magnetized neutron star, a very rare event, called a magnetar.

Supernovas are rare astronomical events, and they occur with massive stars (ones far larger than our Sun). The event is a dramatic violent and catastrophic destruction of the star. In the sky the explosion looks like a new star has been formed; however, the bright spot slowly ebbs away into darkness.

The supernova was spotted by a series of eight telescopes based in Chile and Hawaii. Together the telescopes, which use special Nikon long lenses, form part of the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN) project.

Commenting on the new event, Professor Christopher Kochanek, from The Ohio State University, explained to BBC Science:

“The idea is that this thing at the center is very compact. It’s probably about the mass of our Sun, and the garbage into which it is dumping its energy is about five to six times the mass of our Sun, and expanding outwards at a rate of, let’s say, 10,000km/s.”

The finding is explained in more detail in the journal Science. The paper is titled “ASASSN-15lh: A highly super-luminous supernova.” The paper can be read on-line for free here.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.

  • Victor Grayson

    A stellar spectacular!