A massive star 10 billion light-years from Earth exploded in a supernova and its brightness was more than three times that of all the 100 billion stars of the Milky Way galaxy put together. Detailed results of an investigation into the superluminous supernova were published Friday in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Superluminous supernova are about 10 to 100 times brighter than their ordinary counterparts, and scientists are still not sure about the kinds of stars that are involved or of the physical processes that lead to this extreme brightness. And this particular superluminous supernova, called DES15E2mlf, is unusual even among its own kind, very few of which have been detected so far by astronomers.
First spotted by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration using the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Chile, in November 2015, DES15E2mlf is located in a fairly regular-looking massive galaxy. However, superluminous supernovae are typically found to reside in dwarf galaxies or other low-mass galaxies.
“The current idea is that a low-metal environment is important in creating superluminous supernovae, and that’s why they tend to occur in low mass galaxies, but DES15E2mlf is in a relatively massive galaxy compared to the typical host galaxy for superluminous supernovae,” Yen-Chen Pan, a postdoctoral researcher at University of California Santa Cruz and first author of the paper, said in a statement on the university’s website.