Astronomers gained an unparalleled front-row ticket to a star’s 60 million light-years-away explosions. They observed the occurrence thanks to ground and space telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope. These findings not only shed light on what happens before a star dies but may also aid Astronomers in developing an early warning system for stars on their way out. The supernova, designated SN 2020fqv, can be discovered in the Virgo constellation’s interacting Butterfly Galaxies.
Although the star died millions of years ago, the supernova’s light is only now reaching Earth. Ryan Foley, leader of the discovery team and assistant professor in the University of California, Santa Cruz, said, “We used to talk about supernova work like we were crime scene investigators, where we would show up after the fact and try to figure out what happened to that star.”
The data were combined to give a complete picture of the star’s death and what happened next. Soon after the explosion, Hubble noticed circumstellar debris around the star. This material was ejected by the aging star in the year leading up to its demise, giving Astronomers an insight into what happened before the supernova. The Royal Astronomical Society’s Monthly Notices will soon publish an article outlining these discoveries.