Astronomers think they figured out how to predict when a supernova will explode

(ORDO NEWS) — In a recent study published in the journal High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena, a team of researchers from Japan discusses strategies for observing and possibly predicting signatures of local type II supernovae and galactic supernovae (SNe) explosions.

This study could help us better understand how and when supernovae can occur throughout the universe, with supernovae being the multiple form of supernovae (SN).

But how important is it to detect supernovae before they happen?

“From my perspective, this is important in two ways,” said Daichi Tsuna, an astrophysicist at the University of Tokyo’s Early Universe Research Center and lead author of the study.

“First, although we know that supernovae (SNe) are explosions that signal the death of massive stars, what happens at the end of their life is still a mystery. In fact, the SN precursors suggested by recent observations are not predicted by the standard the theory of stellar evolution.

“Our paper argues that we can study this precursor in depth through future observations, which will help deepen our understanding of stellar evolution and refine the current theory.

Second, the detection of the SN precursor will provide very early warning of the near future of SN, and will help expand the available timeframe for coordinating observations with multiple messengers (light, neutrinos and gravitational waves).”

For the study, the scientists used the open-source CHIPS (Complete History of Interaction-Powered Supernovae) code to create a theoretical model for such a mass ejection from a red supergiant star.

This is intriguing because the star Betelgez, which dimmed in 2019, sparking discussions that it could go supernova, is also a red supergiant star.

As it turns out, Betelgeuse’s lifespan is nearing its end, but a 2021 study says it won’t explode for another 100,000 years. But what implications might this research have for Betelgeuse?

“Betelgeuse is a red supergiant, and this is exactly the star that we studied in this work,” Tsuna explained. “Thus, if Betelgeuse explodes soon, it could show a similar emission of precursors just ahead of SN.

Since Betelgeuse is very close to us, neutrino detectors can detect neutrinos emitted as early as a few days before SN. We can conduct multi-messenger astronomy even before Bang SN!”.

The study’s findings suggest that the light curves of eruptions are fueled by a short shockwave pulse lasting only a few days, followed by a much longer cooling lasting hundreds of days.

For low-energy eruptions, this period is followed by a dim peak period caused by what is known as a bonded shell dragging backwards.

The study concludes that such mass eruptions “may serve as an early warning of the near future of SN, which will be important for multi-messenger studies of SNe with core collapse.”

“The only thing I would like to emphasize is that we have a great future for detecting such rather dim precursors,” Tsuna said.

“For example, in a few years the Rubin observatory will be making wide-field observations with a sensitivity much deeper than current observatories. It will be sensitive enough to actually detect these types of ejecta, and could become a probe for the remarkable end stages of a massive star’s life.”


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