November 15, 2018
Astronomers may have finally uncovered the long-sought progenitor to a unique type of exploding star by sifting through NASA Hubble Space Telescope archival data. The supernova, called a type Ic, is thought to detonate after its massive progenitor star has shed or been stripped of its outer layers of hydrogen and helium.
These stars could be among the most massive known, at least 30 times heftier than our Sun. Even after shedding some of their material late in life, they are expected to be big and bright. So it was a mystery why astronomers had not been able to nab one of these stars in pre-explosion images.
Finally, in 2017, astronomers got lucky. A nearby star ended its life as a type Ic supernova. Two teams of astronomers poured through the archive of Hubble images to uncover the putative progenitor in pre-explosion photos taken in 2006. The supernova, catalogued as SN 2017ein, appeared near the center of the nearby galaxy spiral NGC 3938, located roughly 65 million light-years away.
Read the entire article at the UCSC Newscenter.