A group of astronomers observing the strange quiet death of a massive star, which exploded in a “peculiar” fashion some 920 million light years from Earth, also witnessed the birth of binary star system for the first time.
Astronomers from the California Institute of Technology and Carnegie Science Institute published their findings in the journal Science on Thursday. In the study, they describe the strange event in which the huge star exploded in a surprisingly faint and rapidly fading supernova – in stark contrast to the dramatic bang which exploding stars usually produce.
The star was at least eight times the mass of our sun, yet it only ejected one-fifth of our sun’s mass during the explosion. Usually, a star’s core collapses inward before exploding completely in a powerful, violent, blast.
The event was captured by the Palomar Observatory, which conducts a nightly survey of the sky in the search of supernovae.