Calcium-rich supernova first studied in X-ray range

(ORDO NEWS) — Half of all calcium in the universe – including the calcium found in our teeth and nails – was created during the “last breath” of dying stars.

Such supernovae, called “calcium-rich supernovae”, are so rare in the Universe that it is a challenge for astrophysicists to find enough such objects to study in detail. The nature of these supernovae and the mechanism of formation of calcium in the course of the processes occurring during the explosion have therefore remained poorly understood until now.

In the new work, a team of scientists led by Wynn Jacobson-Galan of Northwestern University, USA, may have figured out the true nature of these rare, mysterious events. For the first time, astronomers have studied a calcium-rich supernova in the X-ray range, providing a deeper understanding of the final months of a star’s life before the explosion, as well as the final flare itself.

In their work, Jacobson-Galan and colleagues observed a supernova called SN2019ehk that erupted in April 2019 in the spiral galaxy M100, located 55 million light-years from Earth.

The team’s analysis shows that the calcium-rich supernova is a compact star that sheds its outer shell of gas in the later stages of its life cycle. When this star explodes, its erupting matter collides with the material of the outer shell that has moved away from the star, as a result of which bright X-rays are emitted. In general, the explosion leads to the development of extremely high temperatures and pressures that favor the nuclear reaction of forming calcium, the authors explained.


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