Friday, September 29, 2006

Champagne Supernova in the Sky

This article is not about the Oasis song but about the discovery of a peculiar supernova. The conventional view is that supernovae of type Ia are the explosion of a white dwarf that has exceeded the so-called Chandrasekar limit. An international team of astronomers led by Canadians has discovered a possible super-Chandra supernova.

The type Ia supernova are of special interest as they are being used as standard candles to measure the expansion of the Universe. Now a team of astronomers led by a group at the University of Toronto has discovered a supernova more massive than previously believed possible. Andy Howell, lead author of the study, identified a Type Ia supernova in a distant galaxy 4 billion light years away that originated from white dwarf whose mass is far larger than any previous example. University of Oklahoma professor David Branch has dubbed this the “Champagne Supernova,” since extreme explosions that offer new insight into the inner workings of supernovae are an obvious cause for celebration.


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