Astronomers Discover “Heavy Metal” Supernova Rocking Out


This pretty frickin’ cool: astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA have discovered what they’ve dubbed a “heavy metal” superluminous supernova.

The very concept of a supernova is already metal as fuck: as explained by Wikipedia, supernovas occur “during the last stellar evolutionary stages of a massive star’s life, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final titanic explosion [which] causes the sudden appearance of a ‘new’ bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months.” But what makes this particular supernova — classified as ‘SN 2017egm’ — particularly metal is that it’s… well, metal. From the official press release:

“…the [Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics] team found that SN 2017egm’s host galaxy has a high concentration of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, which astronomers call ‘metals.’ This is the first clear evidence for a metal-rich birthplace for a superluminous supernova. The dwarf galaxies that usually host superluminous supernovas are known to have a low metal content, which was thought to be an essential ingredient for making these explosions.”

Adds Matt Nicholl, the astronomer who headed up the team:

“Superluminous supernovas were already the rock stars of the supernova world. We now know that some of them like heavy metal, so to speak, and explode in galaxies like our own Milky Way.”

Neat-o! Makes me wish metal and hard rock had a better band called ‘Supernova’ than these nitwits:

You can read the entire press release about SN 2017egm here, or read the entire paper here.

Thanks: Mike T.

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