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A Giant Red Star Explode Into A Supernova For The First Time

The most spectacular event of the universe is observed by mankind for the first time. Astronomers from UC Berkeley captured a giant red star explode into a Supernova. Ground-based Keck Observatory observed this particular star which was roughly 120 million light-years away from the earth situated in a galaxy named NGC-5731. The star was 10 times massive than our Sun and this particular event is known as SN-2020tlf.

SN 2020tlf (red star explode into a supernova)
Artist’s concept of a red supergiant star, like SN 2020tlf, just before it explodes in a supernova | W. M. Keck Observatory

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When a star reaches its end then, it explodes releasing energy and chemicals into the universe; this dramatic yet spectacular explosion is known as Supernova. This journey of a star up to this supernova starts from its birth. The recipe for the formation of a star is very easy and it needs only a few ingredients like dust and gas. These ingredients are available in the universe is an abundant scale. Gravity is a chef here who combines these ingredients which leads to the formation of a hotter and denser core. Further, the hydrogen gas converts into helium due to an amazing process known as Nuclear Fusion. If a star is a vehicle, the core of helium acts as an Engine and helium as a fuel which keeps the star running that is ‘Alive’.

The core pushes the star outward and Gravity keeps pushing the star inwards. This fight between the equal forces keeps the star stable. But, this dramatic conflict comes to an end when the core of the star runs out of fuel (Helium) and Gravity wins. Then star starts to crunch inwards and suddenly explodes into a supernova. Before explosion it again inflates like a balloon into a Red Giant, Red color is due to the low temperature of the outer layer. Stars come in a range of colors: blue, white, green, yellow, orange, and Red. The red one is the lowest in temperature and the blue one is the higher in temperature; strange, isn’t it? The star becomes more luminous in the last stage and when it explodes then it can outshine the entire galaxy for a few days or even for months.

Stars are rich in gases, minerals, and metals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc. Hence, when these supernovas take place all the material is thrown into the universe. These events provide all the ingredients required for water and life. These events inspired Carl Sagan to say his iconic line, ‘We all are made up of star stuff.’

Pan-STARRS Telescope
Pan-STARRS on Haleakala, Maui, was one of the telescopes used to observe the explosion of SN 2020tlf | STScI

Scientists of Berkeley had been watching this star since January 2020 and after 9 months the first-ever observation of a supernova of a red giant is noted. This will really help to explore the stellar behavior and further research. The scientists are already on the quest of observing the next supernova after this SN2020tlf. There are many red giants in our night sky, Betelgeuse from the Orion constellation is also one of them. This first-time observation of such a violent event already opened a thousand doors to the answers to the stellar mysteries.

Find the research paper HERE!

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