Astronomers have discovered a supernova explosion that may belong to a mythical star.
Space is full of secrets beyond our imagination. One of these mysteries is the origin of the universe. Scientists have multiple theories on this topic but they are all hypothetical and only exist in theory. In fact, there are many theories about the origin of the universe, some based on science and others based on beliefs. Over the years, we’ve found evidence that gave us confidence in these theories but we haven’t yet discovered conclusive evidence for this. But now thanks to the Gemini North Infrared Spectrometer (GNIRS) of the 8.1-meter Gemini North Telescope, a team of astronomers has discovered something that could give us a definitive direction of the origin of the universe. And it all goes back to a massive supernova from the legendary star Pop 3.
An astronomer has discovered traces of a supernova that may be associated with the elusive Population III star
It all started when a team of astronomers used the Gemini North telescope on the island of Hawaii to analyze the quasar at the far end of the universe. Curiosity arose after they saw a strange chemical signature around the object. A closer look at the chemical signature revealed a high iron to magnesium ratio. The conclusion was that the debris must belong to a star that could be 300 times the size of the Sun. But that wasn’t the interesting part.
Scientists knew they were looking for a supernova event. A supernova is a powerful, luminous explosion of a star. It occurs in large stars after they lose a significant amount of mass from ongoing nuclear fusion. As a result, the volume increases but the pressure inside the star drops dangerously. This causes the star’s core to collapse and a massive explosion occurs. Supernovae are considered the greatest combustion reaction in the universe.
However, the supernova leaves behind a white or black dwarf. This one left only gaseous debris behind. This led the team to suspect that what they were seeing could be an unstable binary supernova. But humans have never been able to see an unstable binary supernova and its existence is just a theoretical topic. Another mystery surrounding it is that such a supernova is caused only by Population III stars, which is also something we haven’t seen before.
Star Population is a way to rank stars. They come in three classes and are divided based on the mineral in their composition. The leading theory is that the less metallic a star is, the older the universe is. The reasoning is simple that because younger stars are made up of older stars or material left over from them, and all stars undergo nuclear fusion, the metal concentration will be higher the younger the star. It should be noted that for the purpose of classification, all the elements in the hydrogen and helium band are considered metals.
So, the Sun would be an example of a group I star because it has a high amount of minerals and is a fairly young star. The stars of the second group are older and as a result are found on the edge and halo of galaxies. Population III star is extremely massive, luminous and hot with almost no metals left. These stars are assumed to be the first stars after the birth of the universe itself. So these stars are direct products of the Big Bang.
If the assertion is correct, this is a big nod towards the big bang theory as a possible origin of the universe.
“It was clear to me that the supernova candidate for this would be an unstable binary supernova of Population III, with the entire star exploding without leaving any remnants behind. I was somewhat pleased and surprised to discover that a supernova of a star has a mass about 300 times the mass of the Sun. It provides a ratio of magnesium to iron consistent with the low value we derived for the quasar,” Yozuru Yoshi, co-author of the research and an astronomer at the University of Tokyo, Tell Space.com website.
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