KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The brilliant flash of an exploding star dies and explodes has been captured for the first time ever.
The Kepler space telescope, NASA’s planet hunter, captured the optical wavelength or visible light from the star. The shock was captured in 2011, but the discovery was made public on Monday after the research was published in the Astrophysical Journal.
A team of scientists at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, analyzed light captured by Kepler every 30 minutes over a three-year period, hunting for signs of massive stellar death explosions known as supernovae. The shock breakout, or early flash the star emits when it blows itself apart, last for about only 20 minutes, so catching it was a “milestone for astronomers.”
An artist was able to recreate the explosion based on newly published data and optical wavelengths captured by the telescope. The flash was emitted by the death of the star known as KSN 2011d, which is roughly 500 times the size of the sun and about 1.2 billion light-years away, according to NASA’s Ames Research Center.
NASA said understanding the physics behind the explosion helps scientists to better understand how the seeds of chemical complexity and life itself have been scattered in space and time in our Milky Way galaxy.