Goleta (California), Nov 10: Astronomers at the La Cumbre Observatory (LCO) discovered a star which have been exploding multiple times for over 50 years now and the observation challenges the existing theories of supernovae.
Named iPTF14hls, it was first discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory, Astronomy Now reported. At that time, it was thought to be an ordinary supernova. However, months later, astronomers from LCO were baffled to see the supernova was brighter after it momentarily faded. It was observed that while normal supernova fades over a period of 100 days, iPTF14hls instead brightened and dimmed at least five times over two years.
Researchers, reportedly, in a bid to figure out the exceptional supernova looked into the archives and found the evidence of a similar explosion at the same location in 1954 and arrived at the conclusion that the star survived its destruction in the explosion. It further states that it exploded again in 2014, that is almost 64 years later.
A study revealed that the star which exploded was at least 50 times more massive than the Sun and probably even much larger than that. It also stated that supernova iPTF14hls might be the most massive explosion ever seen.
Astronomy Now claims that supernova iPTF14hls could be the first example of what is called ‘pulsational pair instability supernova’. As per this theory, massive stars turn so hot in their cores that the energy is converted into matter and anti-matter, which eventually causes an explosion blowing off the outer layers, but keeps the core intact. This process, it claims, can repeat multiple times over decades before the final explosion and collapse to a black hole.
Leader of the LCO supernova group, Andy Howell, said such explosions were visible only in the early universe and should have not existed this long.
The report also claimed that it is quite possible that data from iPTF14hls might not be fully explained with the ‘pulsational pair instability supernova’ theory. This supernova is still bright even after three years of its discovery.
LCO claims it is monitoring the supernova every few days for several years using the global telescope network as long-term observation is essential to study unusual events like this.