Hubble delivered an unprecedented shot: it is the first time that this type of phenomenon has been observed in such detail.
The Hubble telescope has captured the first phases of a star that exploded 11 billion years ago, when the universe was still only 2.1 billion years old.
The research has been published in the journal Nature and it is the first time that a supernova from the “beginning” of the history of the universe has been observed with such precision .
figured it out
The Hubble image captures three different moments of the stellar explosion.
The supernova of the star, whose mass was 500 times greater than that of Sol, was revealed thanks to gravitational lensing: when a galaxy’s gravity warps and magnifies the light behind it, it allows telescopes to observe distant objects.
Light from separate moments in the supernova traveled varying distances through the lens and was actually slowed down by the lensing galaxy’s immense gravity, causing the different “paths” of light to all arrive at the same time.
“It’s quite rare that you can detect a supernova at a very early stage, because that stage is really short,” said Wenlei Chen, co-lead author of a study and a researcher at the University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy.
“It only lasts from hours to a few days, and can be easily missed even for close detection,” he added. “In the same exposure, we can see a sequence of images, like multiple faces of a supernova .”
Third time’s the charm?
Hubble witnessed three faces of a star’s evolving supernova explosion, thanks to a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. Read more: https://t.co/dGbvAXeFkR
Learn more in this video! pic.twitter.com/yZbK6ZrMMJ
— Hubble (@NASAHubble) November 9, 2022
Science thanks to Hubble
Hubble has been working for decades and, despite the launch of the James Webb telescope, continues to do science.
Unlike the recently launched, Hubble looks optically.
Hubble continues to make important discoveries, including the detection, this year, of the most distant single star ever seen, Eärendel, whose light took 12.9 billion years to reach Earth.
NASA and SpaceX have agreed to study the feasibility of awarding Elon Musk’s company a contract to boost the Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit, with the aim of extending its useful life.