Galactic explosion reveals new details about the universe

Exploding Supernova concept

Many chemical elements are formed during a supernova explosion, so studying them can give scientists insight into the chemical composition of the universe.

New research sheds light on the chemical formation of the universe.

An international team of scientists stumbled upon an exploding supernova in a distant spiral galaxy, using data from the first year of interstellar observations of[{” attribute=””>James Webb Space Telescope.

The recent research, published in The

In this case, scientists were able to survey a Type 1a supernova – the explosion of a carbon-oxygen

For instance, light elements like hydrogen and helium were formed during the big bang, but heavier elements can be created only through the thermonuclear reactions that happen inside supernovas. Understanding how these stellar reactions affect the distribution of iron elements around the cosmos could give researchers deeper insight into the chemical formation of the universe, said Tucker.

“As a supernova explodes, it expands, and as it does so, we can essentially see different layers of the ejecta, which allows us to probe the nebula’s core,” he said. Powered by a process called radioactive decay – wherein an unstable

For many years, it was unclear whether fast-moving particles produced when cobalt-56 decays into iron-56 seeped into the surrounding environment, or were held back by the magnetic fields supernovas create.

Yet by providing new insight into the cooling properties of supernova ejecta, the study confirms that in most circumstances, ejecta doesn’t escape the confines of the explosion. This reaffirms many of the assumptions scientists have made in the past about how these complex entities work, Tucker said.

“This study validates almost 20 years’ worth of science,” he said. “It doesn’t answer every question, but it does a good job of at least showing that our assumptions haven’t been catastrophically wrong.”

Future JWST observations will continue to help scientists develop their theories about star formation and evolution, but Tucker said that further access to other types of imaging filters could help test them as well, creating more opportunities to understand wonders far beyond the edges of our own galaxy.

“The power of JWST is really unparalleled,” said Tucker. “It’s really promising that we’re accomplishing this kind of science and with JWST, there’s a good chance we’ll not only be able to do the same for different kinds of supernovas, but do it even better.”

Reference: “Serendipitous Nebular-phase JWST Imaging of SN Ia SN 2021aefx: Testing the Confinement of 56Co Decay Energy” by Ness Mayker Chen, Michael A. Tucker, Nils Hoyer, Saurabh W. Jha, Lindsey A. Kwok, Adam K. Leroy, Erik Rosolowsky, Chris Ashall, Gagandeep Anand, Frank Bigiel, Médéric Boquien, Chris Burns, Daniel Dale, James M. DerKacy, Oleg V. Egorov, L. Galbany, Kathryn Grasha, Hamid Hassani, Peter Hoeflich, Eric Hsiao, Ralf S. Klessen, Laura A. Lopez, Jing Lu, Nidia Morrell, Mariana Orellana, Francesca Pinna, Sumit K. Sarbadhicary, Eva Schinnerer, Melissa Shahbandeh, Maximilian Stritzinger, David A. Thilker and Thomas G. Williams, 15 February 2023, The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/acb6d8

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and others.

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