Photos
Article

by Miriam Kramer, SPACE.com Staff Writer

Astronomers have spotted the most distant massive star explosion of its kind, a supernova that could help scientists better understand the nature of the universe.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists recently caught sight of Supernova UDS10Wil (nicknamed SN Wilson) which exploded more than 10 billion years ago. It took more than 10 billion years for the light of this violent star explosion to reach Earth.

SN Wilson is known as a Type Ia supernova — a particular kind of star explosion that gives scientists a sense of how the universe has expanded over time.

"This new distance record holder opens a window into the early universe, offering important new insights into how these stars explode," research leader David Jones of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., said in a statement. "We can test theories about how reliable these detonations are for understanding the evolution of the universe and its expansion."

SN Wilson is only four percent more distant than the last most distant supernova of its kind found by Hubble, NASA officials said in a statement. However, that is still 350 million years further back in time than any other previously found star explosion.

By understanding when massive stars began exploding, scientists can get a sense of how quickly the universe was seeded with the elements needed to create planets and other cosmic bodies.

"If supernovae were popcorn, the question is how long before they start popping?" Adam Riess, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., said in a statement. "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."

This work also might contribute to other work being done on what triggers these massive explosions, a question that has plagued astronomers since the discovery of Type Ia supernovas.

This discovery is also part of a three-year-initiative by the Hubble program to find the most distant supernovas. Scientists with the program hope to understand if the star explosions have changed in some way since the Big Bang birthed the universe 13.8 billion years ago.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990. It is expected to continue functioning for the next five years or so, and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled for launch in 2018.

The new findings will be published in an upcoming issue of "The Astrophysical Journal."

Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

Source: http://www.space.com/20509-most-distant-supernova-found.html

Comments
Order by: 
Per page: 
 
  • There are no comments yet
The Social Network Buzz - Comment using your Facebook, AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo! account
Info
Administrator
The Black Vault Owner/Operator
04.05.2013 (385 days ago)
Main Space
932 Views
0 Subscribers
All News by Administrator
Share This Article
Rate
0 votes
Related News
Getting your “space legs” in Earth orbit has taken on new meaning for NASA’s pioneering Robonaut program.
Main Space
15 hours ago · From Administrator
While spiders were busy spinning webs in space, researchers on Earth weaved their knowledge of this activity into educational materials to inspire and motivate students.
2 days ago · From Administrator
A test flight later this week will challenge a set of sensors to map out a 65-yard square of boulder-sized hazards and pick out a safe place to land.
Main Space
2 days ago · From Administrator
Space rocks big enough to destroy a city hit the Earth much more often than thought, according to an estimate by a private group devoted to preventing disaster from such orbital killers.
Main Space
2 days ago · From Administrator
It's so far away that even if you booked a trip on the speediest of our rockets, you'd have 100 million years to polish your Sudoku skills en route to Kepler 186f.
3 days ago · From Administrator
Farthest Star Explosion Yet Revealed by Hubble