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Most powerful supernova explosions discovered by Japanese astronomers

An artistic impression of 'supernova explosion'

LONDON (PTI): Huge balls of fire, 10,000 times hotter than the sun, that were unleashed by a supernova in one of the most powerful explosions in the universe have been discovered.

The Japanese Suzaku space observatory has captured the unusual features that were detected in the Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443), 5,000 light years away, The Astrophysical Journal reported.

"This is the first evidence of a new type of supernova remnant - one that was heated right after the explosion," said team leader Hiroya Yamaguchi at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Japan.

The remnant of a supernova usually cools quickly due to rapid expansion following the explosion. It gradually heats up again as it sweeps up tenuous interstellar gas over thousands of years.

The astronomers found evidence in the Suzaku spectrum that indicated large amounts of silicon and sulphur atoms from which all electrons had been stripped away. This requires temperatures higher than 17 million degree Celsius and so could only have been created immediately after the supernova explosion.

"Suzaku sees the Jellyfish's hot heart," team member Midori Ozawa said.

Remnants from giant fireballs unleashed by a supernova are still glowing at temperatures 10,000 times hotter than the Sun thousands of years after the event, they added.

The phenomenon was picked up in the x-ray spectrum.

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