Astronomers were looking for something dark.
Dark matter. Dark energy.
Essentially, it is the 80 percent of the universe that we know they should be there – but we can not see.
Instead, they found something shiny.
About 72 intense light bursts. 19659003] Not the bright, steady flickering of a star that turns nova over several months.
But a short, sharp – immense – flash.
The University of Southampton presented the results of its Dark Energy Survey Supernova Program (DES-SN) at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science earlier this week
The astronomer Miika Pursiainen had the 4-meter telescope of the International Observatory Cerro Tololo used in Chile.
He collected data about the rate of expansion of the universe and what that means for the "missing mass" that the universe must contain.
"The DES-SN survey is here to help us understand dark energy that is completely unexplained," said Pursiainen. "This survey also shows many more inexplicable transients than before."
What he and his team saw were hot explosions between 1
Its brightness was similar to that of a supernova.
But their duration was far too short.
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Pursians are still trying to figure out what the weird cosmic events are.
One of his first thoughts was that these flashes are not the star itself that explodes. Instead, it may shed its skin as it progresses slowly through its death throes.
When a star ages, heavy elements build up in its core. These eventually become so heavy that the star collapses, blowing off its outer gas envelope.
His known as Type II Supernova
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These new short flashes could be a complication of this process.
The star could blow off gas clouds in earlier stages of its collapse. Once the star actually becomes supernova, those big bubbles could overheat – and explode.
But the Australian National University (ANU) is already working on understanding this very concept. It looked at the unusual explosion of a star caught by the Kepler Space Telescope.
It was wrapped in a dense shell of gas.
When the massive amount of energy from the supernova popped into the shell, most of the kinetic energy rushed into light, the ANU team says.
The last explosion of the star, which was about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth, lasted only a few days – ten times faster than a typical supernova. 19659003] It was called a rapidly developing luminous transient (FELT).
"We have discovered another way stars die and distribute matter back into space," said ANU Research School astronomy and astrophysics researcher Brad Tucker. 19659003] At the moment, what the Dark Energy Survey team has seen is just a working theory. Further observations and analyzes are needed to give him substance.
"Our work confirms that astrophysics and cosmology are still sciences with many unanswered questions," says Pursiainen.