Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two Supernova Factories Found In The Milky Way

Date:
April 2, 2008
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society
Summary:
Two "supernova factories", rare clusters of Red Supergiant (RSG) stars, have been located in the Galactic Bar of the Milky Way. "RSGs represent the final brief stage in a massive star's lifecycle before it goes supernova. They are very rare objects, so to find this many in the same place is remarkable. Together they contain 40 RSGs, which is nearly 20% of all the known RSGs in the Milky Way. These stars are all at the brink of going supernova," said one of the astronomers.

Top-down illustration of the Milky Way, showing the Bar and the location of the clusters.
Credit: Rochester Institute of Technology

The discovery of two “supernova factories”, rare clusters of Red Supergiant (RSG) stars, located in the Galactic Bar of the Milky Way will be presented at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast on Tuesday 1st April.

“RSGs represent the final brief stage in a massive star’s lifecycle before it goes supernova. They are very rare objects, so to find this many in the same place is remarkable. Together they contain 40 RSGs, which is nearly 20% of all the known RSGs in the Milky Way. These stars are all at the brink of going supernova,” said Dr Ben Davies of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The two clusters are located next to each other on the edge of the Galactic Bar which is ploughing through the disc of the Milky Way. It is likely to be this interaction between the bar and the disc that triggered the star formation event that created the clusters.

The clusters are about 20,000 light years from Earth and separated from each other by 800 light years.  Cluster 1 contains 14 RSGs and is 12 million years old; Cluster 2 contains 26 RSGs and is 17 million years old.  Massive stars are rarely observed because they burn their fuel up very quickly.  RSGs are doubly rare because they are only a brief period of that short life cycle.

Dr Davies said, “The next supernova could go off in one of these clusters at any time.  We estimate that it’s about 5000 years between explosions for these clusters and we can see the remnants of a supernova that went off around 5000 years ago.  That means that the next one could be any time between today and 7008 AD.”

The team identified the clusters initially using the mid-infrared Galactic Plane survey (GLIMPSE), a huge database of images taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. They found two distinct groupings of bright stars very close to one another in the constellation of Scutum.  Using the Keck Telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, they were then able to pin-point the exact distance from Earth of each star in each group.  These observations showed that, in each group, large numbers of stars were at exactly the same distance from Earth, and therefore were members of the same cluster.

Dr Davies said, “The discovery of these clusters gives us a great opportunity to answer some long-standing questions in astrophysics, such as exact mechanisms of how massive stars evolve toward supernovae, and how the Galactic Bar can trigger huge starburst events in the Milky Way.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society. "Two Supernova Factories Found In The Milky Way." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080401155107.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society. (2008, April 2). Two Supernova Factories Found In The Milky Way. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080401155107.htm
Royal Astronomical Society. "Two Supernova Factories Found In The Milky Way." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080401155107.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) — Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins