First look at star exploding into supernova 60million light-years away

Astronomers have been able to see the life cycle of a star in real-time as the Hubble Space Telescope gave them their first look at one becoming a supernova.

Hubble's data, combined with other observations, allowed researchers to watch the exploding star 60 million light-years away and become a supernova.

The supernova, also known as SN 2020fqv, located in the Butterfly Galaxies was discovered in April 2020 by the Zwicky Transient Facility at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego, California.

The explosion was simultaneously being observed by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a NASA satellite giving experts the first holistic view of the earliest stage of a star's destruction.

The observation also allowed experts to examine the material close to the supernova that was ejected during the last year of its life.

Samaporn Tinyanont, the lead author on the study's paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: "We rarely get to examine this very close-in circumstellar material since it is only visible for a very short time, and we usually don't start observing a supernova until at least a few days after the explosion.

"For this supernova, we were able to make ultra-rapid observations with Hubble, giving unprecedented coverage of the region right next to the star that exploded."

The team looked at Hubble observations of the star going back to the 1990s and an image of the system every 30 minutes starting several days before the explosion provided by TESS.

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According to NASA, these results could help experts create a “warning system” for other stars on the brink of death.

Assistant professor at the University of California, Ryan Fowler said: "We used to talk about supernova work like we were crime scene investigators, where we would show up after the fact and try to figure out what happened to that star.

"This is a different situation because we really know what's going on and we actually see the death in real-time."

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