How stars really pass on

The American Astronomical Association ( wrote an article titled “A Challenge to Our View of How Stars Die“, which highlights a new observation of two supernovas causing an explosion. The end of a star’s lifetime is called supernovae and it ends in a huge explosion resulted from fuel in the star’s core being diminished, with the core subsequently collapses under its own gravity. There are two types of classifications for stellar deaths: Supernovae 1 and 2. Supernovae 1 is the lack of hydrogen in the spectra, with 2 having hydrogen. The explosion being observed, SN 2014C, contradicts these two options. The explosion began with no hydrogen (Type 1), however, over time it started to show hydrogen (Type 2). After examining this transition period for over a year, the expanding shock appears to have plowed into a substantial shell of hydrogen gas, encasing the supernova. The shell of hydrogen must have been launched out of the dying star centuries before the supernova even took place. What is intriguing, is the release of hydrogen is expected to occur slowly over a period of time, not all at once. This indicates astronomers have to change the way they map stellar evolutions and deaths. A sample was taken to test to see if this supernova was one of a kind, but it is not! The sample concluded 10% of the findings fell under this “bridge” classification of supernovas where they go from type 1 to type 2.

This article contradicts what we have learned from our 14th conceptual objective, “Stellar evolutions and deaths.” In class, we did a lecture tutorial titled, “Stellar Evolution”. Low-mass stars explode as a Type I supernova, while high-mass will cause Type 2, and if the mass is highly large, it can cause a black hole (roughly equivalent to 3 of our suns). The mass of the core of a supernova has three different groupings: Less than 3 sun= degenerate pressure, 1.4 sun=  white dwarf, and 3 suns or higher= neutron star. With the notes in class, I learned to create a supernova, helium molecules form together making ash, afterwards the helium core is formed, leaving little room for molecules to move around. Finally, this results in a helium flash due to the electon degeneracy, making the supernova.

I love finding articles such as this one that challenges what we have learned in class. Astronomy like any other part of science has no absolution to it. Anything can be challenged at any time, it is imperative for researches to gather as much data as possible to come up with the optimal solution or theory. I can also say I have a good understanding of how stars evolve and die as well. It feels good to know more about something scientific that is actually interesting to me personally.


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