Astronomers think they’ve figured out how to predict when a supernova will occur

(ORDO NEWS) — In a recent study presented in High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena , a team of researchers from Japan discusses strategies for observing and possibly predicting explosion precursors from Local Type II and galactic supernovae (SNe). .

This research could help us better understand how and when supernovae can occur in the universe, with supernovae being the plural form of the word supernova (SN).

But just how important is it to detect supernovae before they actually appear?

“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 supernova (SNe) explosions are explosions that signal the death of massive stars, what happens towards the end of their life is still a question.

In fact, the supernova precursors suggested by recent observational work are not predicted from the standard theory of stellar evolution.

“Our paper argues that we can study this precursor in detail with future observations that could help deepen our understanding of stellar evolution and refine the current theory.

Secondly, the detection of a supernova precursor will allow very early warning of a supernova in the near future and will help expand the available time frame for coordinating observations with multiple heralds (light, neutrinos and gravitational waves).”

For the study, the researchers used the open source CHIPS (Complete History of Interaction-Powered Supernovae) code to create a theoretical model of such a discharge from a massive eruption of a red supergiant star.

This is intriguing. because the star Betelgeuse, which was observed to dim in 2019, sparking discussions that it could go supernova, is also a red supergiant star.

As it turns out, Betelgeuse is nearing the end of its life. , but a 2021 study showed that it would not explode for another 100,000 years. But what significance could this study have for Betelgeuse?

“Betelgeuse is a red supergiant, and that’s exactly the star we’ve been studying in this article,” Tsuna explained.

“So if Betelgeuse explodes very hard on it, it can display this type of precursor emission just ahead of SN. Since Betelgeuse is so close to us, neutrino detectors can detect neutrinos emitted days before the supernova. We can do astronomy with multiple messengers even before the supernova explosion!”

The results of the study show that the light curves of an eruption are fueled by a short shock wave pulse lasting only a few days, followed by a much longer cooling discharge lasting hundreds of days.

For lower-energy eruptions, this period is followed by a dim peak period, fueled by a so-called bonded shell that recedes.

The study concludes by stating that such mass eruption events “may serve as an early warning of a nearby supernova in the near future, which will be important for multi-messenger core-collapse supernova research.”

“One thing I would like to emphasize is that we have a bright future for discovering such rather dim precursors,” Tsuna said.

“For example, in a few years the Rubin Observatory will be making wide-angle survey observations with a sensitivity much deeper than real surveys. It will be sensitive enough to actually detect these types of radiation, and could be a probe for the remarkable end stages of a massive star’s life.”

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