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Astronomers catch final moments before star explodes

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LONDON (PTI): Planetary scientists claim to have for the first time captured the final moments before a star is about to explode, after scanning 25 galaxies.

Astronomers have been cataloguing star systems for three years to try to capture them as they meet their ends.

Now, an international team says it has noticed one star system in the Whirlpool Galaxy, which was brightening and dimming in an unusual way, has produced a supernova.

The development could help researchers predict when a star may expire in the future as they try to determine whether the change in brightness was linked to the end of its life, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

Prof Christopher Kochanek at Ohio State University, who led the team, was quoted as saying, "Our underlying goal is to look for any kind of signature behaviour that will enable us to identify stars before they explode.

"It's a speculative goal at this point, but at least now we know that it's possible."

Dorota Szczygiel, a team member, added: "The odds are extremely low that we would just happen to be observing a star for several years before it went supernova. We would have to be extremely lucky. With this galaxy survey, we're making our own luck."

"We're studying all the variable stars in 25 galaxies, so that when one of them happens to go supernova, we've already compiled data on it."

The findings have been published in the 'Astrophysical Journal'.


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