Infrared telescopes to show explosions of stars in dusty galaxies

Stars can explode in dusty galaxies because of this process and its result is not visible from Earth: scientists have figured out how to fix this omission.

The number of supernova explosions does not correspond to the predictions of astrophysicists, perhaps this is due to the fact that some of them are hidden behind the dust that is present in galaxies.

In the new study, the authors discovered five supernovae previously unseen in optical light using data from NASA’s Spitzer telescope. Spitzer processes information about the universe in infrared light, which penetrates clouds of dust, blocking optical light from our eyes, and emitted most brightly by supernovae without dimming.

To find hidden supernovae, the researchers studied Spitzer’s observations of 40 dusty galaxies. And they found out that supernovae do form as often as scientists predict, but not all explosions can be detected and observed.

As a result of studying data from Spitzer, it turned out that scientists miss up to half of stellar explosions. It’s all about the dust that is found in galaxies: it absorbs and scatters optical and ultraviolet light, preventing it from entering telescopes. Therefore, researchers have long concluded that missing supernovae, which are not observed by telescopes, are still alive, simply not visible behind clouds of dust.

The types of supernovae detected by the Spitzer Space Telescope are known as core-collapse supernovae. This process involves giant stars, the mass of which is at least eight times the mass of our Sun. As they age, their cores are filled with iron. And swollen stars are no longer able to produce enough energy to withstand their own gravity. So in the end, their cores collapse suddenly.

As a result, such stars shatter and scatter newly formed chemical elements throughout the cosmos. And the produced “heavy” elements like metals are extremely important for the creation of planets like our Earth, as well as living things.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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