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Brightest Supernovae Discovered Are 10 Billion Light Years Away From Earth

Two extremely bright supernovae determined to be 10 billion light years away

  • Two supernovae part of the superluminous supernova group

  • Supernovae luminosity unexplained by typical mechanics of supernova

  • One of the supernovae is brightest and furthest away


Supernovae Determined To Be 10 Billion Light Years Away
Image at Flickr

Two of the brightest supernovae have been discovered to be 10 billion light years away from Earth.  These two supernovae are hundreds of times brighter than the average supernova.

The two supernovae have scientists perplexed as what typically powers a supernova is not able to explain their intensity.  Typically, a supernova is caused by the collapse of a giant star which then produces a reverse shock wave .

As the core of a star collapses, it sends out the initial shock wave in which the front of the expansion interacts with the interstellar materials as it expands.  During this initial shockwave, it has been found that a reverse shock wave forms alongside, collecting materials and bringing them back towards the core.  Researchers have found that the outward shock wave travels at Mach 300, while the reverse shock wave travels at Mach 1000.  This process can last a few hundred years.

The reverse shock wave is described as working similar to a fluorescent light bulb.  As the shock wave travels at incredible speeds, it heats up materials which in turn produce electromagnetic radiation as high energy X-rays, similarly, the light bulb glows and emits visible light as it heats up.

When the two supernovae were discovered in 2006 and 2007, the distance could not be determined due to the luminosity of these giants.  One of the supernovae, SNLS-06D4eu is the most distant, and potentially brightest of what are now being called superluminous supernovae.

“What may have made this star special was an extremely rapid rotation. When it ultimately died, the collapsing core could have spun up a magnetar like a giant top. That enormous spin energy would then be unleashed in a magnetic fury,” Daniel Kasen from UC Berkeley states.

Although these two supernovae were discovered years ago, it has taken many observations to determine their distance.

About Katana Sohma