In a step towards probing the mysteries of the early universe, the Indian researchers have spotted an extremely luminous, powerful, hydrogen deficient, fast-evolving supernova that shines with the energy borrowed from an exotic type of neutron star with an ultra-powerful magnetic field. Supernovae (SNe) are extremely bright, super-powerful explosions of dead stars in the universe and the Superluminous Supernovae (SLSNe) among them are exceptionally rare.
Superluminous Supernovae (SLSNe) Explained
Since their discovery, Superluminous Supernovae have baffled astronomers because they originated from very massive stars whose minimum mass limit is more than 25 times that of the Sun. It is worth noting that the distribution of such massive stars in our galaxy or in nearby galaxies is sparse in quantity. Among them, spectroscopically confirmed Superluminous Supernovae have been counted to about 150 entities. These brilliant blasts of dead stars are at least 10 times more powerful than any regular supernovae. They are the ancient objects that are among the least understood Supernovae because their underlying sources are unclear, and their extremely high peak luminosity is unexplained.
Observations about SLSNe made so far
SN 2020ank; a bright and fast-evolving H-deficient superluminous supernova was first discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility in 2020, It was further studied by scientists from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) Nainital, an autonomous research institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
When looking upon the Supernova, the apparent look was very similar to other objects in the field. However, the observations of the event, including its extreme brightness, turned out as a very blue object reflecting its brighter character. The observations indicated that the outer layers of the onion structured Supernovae had been peeled off, and the core was shining with a borrowed energy source.
Indian Spectrograph – Devasthal Optical Telescope
The study on this luminous object has been conducted using special arrangements at India’s recently commissioned Devasthal Optical Telescope along with two other Indian telescopes namely, Sampurnanand and Himalayan Chandra. Through this study, the role of 3.6m DOT was established in exploring very rare distant SLSNe in the distant future.
The study established the role of 3.6. DOT is exploring very rare SLSNe in the future. Deeper investigations could explore the underlying physical mechanisms, possible progenitors, and environments hosting such rare explosions and their possible associations with other energetic explosions like Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs).
Why Do Scientists Study Supernovas?
Although a supernova burns for only a short period of time, it can tell scientists a lot about the mysterious universe. One kind of supernova has shown scientists that we live in an expanding universe, one that is growing at an ever-increasing rate.
Scientists also have determined that supernovas play a crucial role in distributing elements throughout the universe. When a star explodes, it shoots elements into space and many of the elements we find here on Earth are made in the core of stars. These elements travel on to form new stars, planets and everything else in the universe.