April 15, 2024

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James Webb spots something lurking in supernova debris

James Webb spots something lurking in supernova debris

“Finally, we have the proof we've been looking for.”

Super duper

With the help of the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists have discovered a mystery at the heart of a supernova that has been in the making for decades.

like Space.com website ReportsSupernova 1987A, named after the year it was discovered here on Earth, exploded so brightly after its death that scientists for more than 30 years weren't sure whether it would form a massive, compact neutron star or a massive neutron star. Black hole.

Now, an international team of scientists has begun to unravel the mystery of this long-ago explosion with the discovery of the associated neutron star, as imaged by the James Webb Space Telescope and described in their new paper. Published in the magazine Sciences.

“For a long time, we have been looking for evidence of a neutron star in the gas and dust of Supernova 1987A,” said Mike Barlow, professor of physics and astronomy at University College London, part of the team that discovered the supernova's offspring. Space.com website. “Finally, we have the proof we've been looking for.”

When stars like the one that caused Supernova 1987A explode, they first scatter nearby objects. Including our planet – With ghostly neutrino particles, they become incredibly bright. This, as well Space.com website It was the brightest supernova seen in the night sky in nearly 400 years, making it a stunning sight but also making it difficult to see the objects that formed in its wake, especially given all the cosmic dust and gas that was pushed out. By explosion.

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“Detection was hampered by the fact that the supernova condensed about half a solar mass of dust in the following years after the explosion,” Barlow said. “This dust was a screen-obscuring radioton from the center of Supernova 1987A.”

Jimmy Neutron

Supernovae It generally leads to black holesWhich results from the collapse of the star's mass on itself. Sometimes, however, if a dying star is slightly less massive than its black hole-forming counterparts, it can instead leave behind a small, dense corpse — a neutron star, named after the particles that make up these bodies after a supernova.

While scientists had assumed for years that Supernova 1987A, which died very recently – by celestial standards – 170,000 years ago, had a neutron star at its centre. It was not until the Webb High Sensitivity Mid-Infrared Instrument and Near-Infrared Spectrometer were directed in 1987A that astrophysicists were able to detect the neutron star at its core with certainty.

Although there are still many questions to be answered, this confirmation of a long-standing hypothesis not only teaches scientists more about how the universe formed, but also showcases one of the many pioneering uses of the Webb telescope, which continues to amaze and amaze everyone. It confuses the scientific world and its enthusiasts alike.

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