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Supernova Birth Observed From Orbiting Telescope

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the you-should-see-the-superplacenta dept.

Space 94

FiReaNGeL writes "Astronomers have seen the aftermath of spectacular stellar explosions known as supernovae before, but no one had witnessed a star dying in real time — until now. While looking at another object in the spiral galaxy NGC 2770, using NASA's orbiting Swift telescope, scientists detected an extremely luminous blast of X-rays released by a supernova explosion. They alerted 8 other telescopes to turn their eyes on this first-of-its-kind event. 'We were looking at another, older supernova in the galaxy, when the one now known as SN 2008D went off. We would have missed it if it weren't for Swift's real-time capabilities, wide field of view, and numerous instruments.'" Bad Astronomy has an excellent, well-illustrated story about the discovery as well. I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property contributes a link to the BBC's coverage, and adds a nugget gleaned from Ars Technica: "SN 2007uy's collapse caused an X-ray burst of about 10^39 joules, most likely due to the 'shock break out' when the energy of the core's collapse finally reached the neutron star's surface."

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It's a gas! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497392)

Well, more like a plasma but still....

Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497416)

"SN 2007uy's collapse caused an X-ray burst of about 10^39 joules
But how many gigawatts is that?

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497470)

2.77777778x10^26 gigawatt-hours.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (3, Informative)

Lord Crc (151920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498004)

I just had to try to put that into perspective, so I looked up [doe.gov] the net annual usage of electricity in the US. If we had somehow captured, converted and stored all that energy, the US would spend about 45 million years using it up (assuming linear growth similar to the last 10 years, and I didn't screwed up the math).

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498452)

but you did screw up the grammar.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

chunk08 (1229574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500768)

but you'd did screwed up the grammar
Fixed that for you ;-)

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498584)

Doesn't seem like much at all. Put it this way, just about anything that has ever happened on Earth has been powered by the Sun. Only a tiny fraction of the Sun's output lands on Earth and yet the Earth has been powered for more than a couple of billion years. Yet you're saying that the final death throes of a star in which it's doing the most intense thing that every happen in its lifetime that it throws of enough energy to feed a single 21st century nation for a few million years. Paltry!

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#23503128)

This doesnt seem to be that much because he alse assumes linear growth of energy consumption over all those millions of years.

At the end of those 55 million years, ever person in the US would use as much energy as a small country...

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

bodan (619290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23504002)

Well, it did happen in just a few minutes. That's like a 10^15 factor in power, for objects that are within couple of orders of magnitudes in size.

(The big factor is for 2 billion years over five minutes; what you're talking about would swallow some more orders of magnitude, but still...)

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (4, Interesting)

rssrss (686344) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499110)

Uh? According to the annual report at the web site you linked, the total energy usage of the US (not including isolation) is about 100 Quads per year. A quad is 10^15 BTUs. One BTU is about 1055 Joules. So, the US uses ~10^20 Joules per year (J/a). The whole world uses about 4 or 5 times that amount. But, lets say the whole world uses 10^21 J/a. At that rate it will take 10^18 years to use 10^39 J. I don't think that the universe will last a substantial fraction of that time period.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499732)

45 million years struck me as a little too soon for the U.S. to go supernova, but after watching the U.S. for just the past few years, I think maybe we could pull off a regular nova or at least a stellar flare.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

Lord Crc (151920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501032)

I should have specified that I based it on electricity use. You make a good point though.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501724)

The universe as we know it might actually live that long and much longer, since the proton half-life (assuming that the Grand Unification Theory is correct and protons do decay after all) is currently estimated to be at least 10^35 years.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

rssrss (686344) | more than 6 years ago | (#23509116)

I am not a physicist, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but:

Proton decay From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

In particle physics, proton decay is a hypothetical form of radioactive decay in which the proton decays into lighter subatomic particles, usually a neutral pion and a positron. Proton decay has not been observed. There is currently no evidence that proton decay exists.


* * *

Proton decay is one of the few observable effects of the various proposed GUTs, the other major one being magnetic monopoles. Both became the focus of major experimental physics efforts starting in the early 1980s. Proton decay was, for a time, an extremely exciting area of experimental physics research. To date, all attempts to observe these events have failed. Recent experiments at the Super-Kamiokande water Cherenkov radiation detector in Japan indicate that if protons decay at all, their half-life must be at least 10^35 years.


I take the second paragraph to mean that half lives of less than 10^35 years have been ruled out. Not that 10^35 years is the half life of a proton.

The following is from a PBS Nova show website [pbs.org] :

Stellar Era Ends: During this era, which will last from 100 million years to one trillion years after the Big Bang (and is the era we are currently in), most of the energy generated by the universe will be in the form of stars burning hydrogen and other elements in their cores. This long period will give way to an even longer lingering death for our universe.


So in 10^18 years, the universe may still exist, but it will likely be a very cold place to be, and will have been such for trillions of years.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

rumith (983060) | more than 6 years ago | (#23514898)

I take the second paragraph to mean that half lives of less than 10^35 years have been ruled out. Not that 10^35 years is the half life of a proton.

That's what I said: "it is currently estimated to be at least 10^35 years".

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 6 years ago | (#23510794)

The universe as we know it might actually live that long and much longer, since the proton half-life (assuming that the Grand Unification Theory is correct and protons do decay after all) is currently estimated to be at least 10^35 years.

Except that The Big Rip will hit first, destroying those protons a few months after they destroy the Galaxy, and long before they can decay through GUT decay.

Assuming that Dark Energy behaves exactly as currently calculated, that is.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

weszz (710261) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497680)

in my mind reading that, I was wondering if it was going to time travel, since it had to have been moving faster than 88mph...

and that much energy...

if only there was a way to harness it...

every now and then blow up a star and get all of our energy from that. hmm... figure what, blow up a star every couple hundred years or so should keep our lights on

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497984)

That's Officer Thinking, Spaceball.

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498060)

JIGAWATTS!

Re:Obligatory Back to the Future joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498702)

I dunno about gigawatts. Perhaps a car analogy will help.

According to the Google calculator [google.com] , 10^39 joules released in 10 minutes (per Ars) is:

2.2 x 10^33 horsepower.

Obligatory Bad Astronomy joke (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 6 years ago | (#23506536)

Hydrogen burning into helium - 10 million years
Helium burning into carbon and oxygen - 1 million years
Carbon burning into neon, sodium, magnesium, and aluminum - 1,000 years
Neon burning into magnesium - 3 years
Oxygen burning into silicon, sulfur, argon, and calcium - 0.3 years
Silicon burning into iron - 5 days

Catching a Type II Supernova in the shock breakout - Priceless

(copyleft MandyDaxon@BadAstronomy)

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497418)

_0_
\''\
'=o='
.|!|
.| |
red giant observed from orbiting telescope [goatse.ch]

Someone has to have thought this (-1, Offtopic)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497440)

ring ring ... ring ring

Hello, NASA SWIFT office, how may I help you?

Er, this is.. uh... the decider man

cough! Ah, how may we help you Mr President?

yes, I .. I was just watching the television on the Internets .. hee hee, I had some help. but I understand that you have the power, or that hubble guy does... to ahhh.... find suns, even exploding ones. Is that right?

Why yes, Mr President, it is. We are quite fortunate to have the Hubble, thank you.

Well, err, I was thinking... sniff, what's that smell? .............sniff ... nevermind. I wanted to know, can Mr Hubble point his power toward ... ahh, the middle easts? Can he search out Saudi sons? We've ...we.. the boys and I, we've been trying to get this one to explode for a couple years now... and well, it would be might patriotic of Mr Hubble to help us with this one. Can I speak to him?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH click.......

mmm.. popcorn (5, Funny)

woodchip (611770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497464)

Now, Who put metal in the microwave?

Re:mmm.. popcorn (2, Funny)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497492)

Does anyone else taste blue?

Re:mmm.. popcorn (1)

end15 (607595) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498850)

If it's anything like my Chevy Nova it should light up the night sky!

Re:mmm.. popcorn (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499458)

Of course it should! That's what happens when you put two Ford Pintos into the super collider!

Re:mmm.. popcorn (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501598)

Hey, which crazy thing happening are you guys screaming about?

Re:mmm.. popcorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23502164)

I taste red dammit.

Re:mmm.. popcorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497524)

Fusion.

eh? (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497568)

I thought it read 'Superman Birth Observed..
I'm far too tired for slashdot..

Interesting use of the term 'real time' (0, Redundant)

Tangential (266113) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497496)

This galaxy is between 90 and 102 million light years away.

That means they watched in 'real time' something that happened about 100 million years ago?

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (2, Insightful)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497554)

time is relative. if you see it now, it's real time. Too bad is not naked eye close.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (2, Funny)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497704)

All things are relative and all my relatives are things ......

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (2, Insightful)

CowboyNealOption (1262194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497828)

Wouldn't it be mostly visible to someone with x-ray vision only? Plus if it was too close, too large a dose of x-rays probably wouldn't be a good thing.

Too bad is not naked eye close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498482)

If a supernova is naked eye close, you wouldn't want to be observing it with the naked eye.

You'd want to be hiding deep underground from the (non-visible) radiation. (And staying there a while since it might damage the ozone layer and let in too much UV from the sun as well)

Re:Too bad is not naked eye close (1)

sir fer (1232128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499032)

Well the nova that made the Crab Nebula (witnessed in 1054AD) was visible during the day and there don't seem to have been too many ill effects. High energy radiation of the gamma/xray type makes up the minority of energy released during these events, and thanks to the inverse-square law, not much will have hit us anyways.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (2)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497556)

"That means they watched in 'real time' something that happened about 100 million years ago?"

Thanks, HughesNet!

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (2, Funny)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497580)

Yes, it happened ~100 million years ago and from our point of view we just watched it in real time.

And the sun in the sky is 8 minutes old.

And your conscious mind is 1/2 second behind.

And I'd really rather you not remind me of disturbing things like this and leave me in peace with my bottle of Cragganmore. Now go away.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23505618)

And your conscious mind is 1/2 second behind.


I'm glad you brought that up. I mentioned this to my dad a while back (I used the figure of a 1/4 second but close enough) and he gave me that deer in the headlights look for a few seconds as it just dawned on him what I said.

It's funny to think we are living "behind" real time yet our body keeps (most of) us functioning normally. Evolution is interesting, isn't it?

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (5, Informative)

SBacks (1286786) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497592)

Yes, space is big and light takes a long time to get to us. By 'real time', they mean they are watching the photons coming from the actual death of the star, and not the photons coming from the debris from years and years later.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497616)

They watched the X-rays flying past Earth in real-time, at least.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (5, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497628)

Since nothing that is observed is happening at the time of the observation, real time is as good a term as any.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499038)

Since nothing that is observed is happening at the time of the observation, real time is as good a term as any.

Ooh, that was good, and just about closes the book on the whole argument.
In fact, now that you mention it that way, a lot of things are starting to make more sense.
Words to live by.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499476)

Since nothing that is observed is happening at the time of the observation, real time is as good a term as any.

I'd say that since according to Relativity we're observing this event at the earliest point in time it would be physically possible for us to observe it, "real time" is a great term.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499970)

Agreed.

In relative terms your getting to see something a few thousand years (maybe more) before it can oblivate you.

I'll take there definition of real time.

Besides every sense you have observes things at different rates, sound and smell being the most obvious.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497834)

By your definition, nothing you see is real time.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497882)

Isn't that true for any observer? That nothing is ever really "real-time"?

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498408)

That's pretty much the case. Event A happens at point A, light from event travels (thus, time passes) from point A to your point B at time B.

AND THEN, you would want to consider the processing time between your retina, optic nerve, brain, possibly some higher cognitive functions....And nothing you see is in "real time".

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498416)

<pedantic>

Exactly.

Even if I hold a flashlight right next to my eyeball (ouch!) and turn it on, there is still a small -- albeit infinitesimally small -- delay between the point when the photons exit the flashlight and when they impact my retina. Thus, I am not watching the flashlight turn on in "real time", although for all practical purposes, it is close enough.

</pedantic>

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499492)

Try telling that to someone who designs high-frequency shit.

>>>although for all practical purposes, it is close enough.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498628)

nothing you see is real time.

D'uh!

Old news (5, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498072)

Yeah that's right, another dupe from slashdot; this story was covered 97 million years ago when it actually happened.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498664)

Now that's patience and discipline, having to wait 100 million years, not forget the appointment, and being there on time, not being even a minute late... At least it gave us plenty of time to evolve into an intelligent species, and build a telescope to watch it happen.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (1)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499410)

The fact that we can't tell with absolute precision how long the light has been traveling is a good example of why we use the term real time. In our frame of reference, it is happening in real time.

Re:Interesting use of the term 'real time' (2, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499894)

That means they watched in 'real time' something that happened about 100 million years ago?

Yeah, exactly. Wake me up when a supernova explodes down the street.

Actually there are inertial frames in which this supernova practically just exploded, e.g. that of the neutrinos which just arrived here from the supernova traveling at almost the speed of light. They would see their flight path undergo Lorentz contraction; as the velocity approaches c the distance shrinks to zero.

"in real time" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497526)

Wow, that's astounding, considering we can't even see our sun in real time.

Re:"in real time" (4, Insightful)

avandesande (143899) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497548)

To be precise we don't see anything in real-time.

Re:"in real time" (2, Funny)

CowboyNealOption (1262194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497842)

I see photons hitting my retina in real time.

Re:"in real time" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497956)

Nope, nerve impulses travel at a finite speed.

Re:"in real time" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498062)

To be precise we don't see anything in real-time.
by CowboyNealOption (1262194) on Wednesday May 21, @05:30PM (#23497842) Journal
I see photons hitting my retina in real time.
Nope, nerve impulses travel at a finite speed.
This is Slashdot, while not always relative, the CowboyNealOption is always there. :P

Re:"in real time" (2, Informative)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497994)

Not actually true, signal propagation from your retina to your visual cortex is not instantaneous.

Re:"in real time" (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498076)

That depends on what you define as 'seeing'. Is it conformational change in opsins (light-sensitive proteins) or conscious awareness of seeing something?

Now I know what it was (4, Funny)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497640)

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I thought it was the beans I had eaten the night before.

Re:Now I know what it was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23504430)

Suppose now would be a good time to tell you that all memes expire after 6 months of introduction, and only get more annoying and non-creative each use after said 6 month period. -1 Overused joke

Thus illustrating.. (1, Funny)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497762)

The dangers of firing up the Large Hadron Collider. Repent now, ye scientists, before we create a black hole! Or cause the sun to go nova! Or cause a Spice Girls Reunion Tour!

Re:Thus illustrating.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497886)

Or cause a Spice Girls Reunion Tour!
You trying to set up another Kessel Run?

Re:Thus illustrating.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497958)

Or cause a Spice Girls Reunion Tour!
You must be new here, the LHC's black hole is how we STOP the Spice Girls Reunion Tour.

danger sticker (1)

silvrstar (1282312) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497800)

WARNING:

Do not look into telescope with remaining eye!

Data? (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497808)

This may seem like a silly question, but were the astronomers able to capture data of the entire event, starting before the initial burst of energy was observed?

Were they already recording data when the new supernova became apparent, is there some sort of "astronomical TiVo that continuously records data in the hopes of inadvertently observing an event such as this one, or did the scientists need to press 'record' once they observed the initial burst of energy?

I only ask, because the article's comparision to "winning the lottery" seems fairly apt, as the odds of observing such an event purely by chance must be extremely (some would say "astronomically") low.
Also, the star's behavior immediately before the supernova could possibly provide interesting data as well. Even a *lack* of "interesting" data would be useful in its own right.

Is it standard procedure to record every scrap of data that is received by such a facility, or do the scientists only record data once the telescope is in position, aimed at a relevant target, etc?

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with all this... mostly just curiosity. It seems that the scientists got very lucky with this observation. Hopefully we can learn something from it, and increase our understanding of the universe!

Re:Data? (2, Informative)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497884)

The astronomer was looking at another supernova very close to the one in question - the number i read was 8 seconds after the start (of X-ray emissions) of the new supernova - they started getting data. Indeed they got really lucky here.
On a completely unrelated note
Have you ever seen a supernova blow up?
No, but if its anything like my old chevy nova it will light up the night sky

Re:Data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497920)

>were the astronomers able to capture data of the entire event,
> starting before the initial burst of energy was observed?

          Yes, Swift was observing the galaxy when the supernova went off, so we have data before, during, and after the explosion.

>is there some sort of "astronomical TiVo that continuously
> records data in the hopes of inadvertently observing an event
> such as this one

          No, we were just very lucky that Swift was already observing a previous supernova in that galaxy. The odds of this happening are very low, so we really did get dealt a royal flush on this one.

> Is it standard procedure to record every scrap of data that is
> received by such a facility, or do the scientists only record
> data once the telescope is in position, aimed at a relevant
> target, etc?

          That depends on the telescope. Some, like Swift's gamma-ray detector are collecting data almost all of the time. Others, like Swift's optical telescope only collects data when it is pointing at the object that we are interested in.

I have to ask (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497814)

How long ago?

Watching the Postironic Genesis (5, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23497856)

This supernova event's description includes a mention of how stars make only the elements no heavier than iron:

After a few million years of generating energy by fusing light elements into heavier ones (hydrogen to helium, helium to carbon, and so on), the core runs out of fuel. Iron builds up in the very center of the star, and no star in the Universe has what it takes to fuse iron.


Heavier elements (like uranium [wikipedia.org] ) are actually created in the supernova event itself:

Along with all elements having atomic weights higher than that of iron, it is only naturally formed in supernova explosions.


So this observation is actually recording the actual origin of all the elements heavier than iron. All the jewelry and aerospace materials you've ever seen, all the copper you use in wiring and plumbing, all elements [wikipedia.org] with atomic numbers from 27 (cobalt) through 94 (plutonium) were made in crucibles like the one we just took home movies of.

Re:Watching the Postironic Genesis (4, Informative)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498250)

...all elements with atomic numbers from 27 (cobalt) through 94 (plutonium) were made in crucibles like the one we just took home movies of.

Nucleo-genesis doesn't stop at plutonium. The transuranic elements get created just as well. The only difference between them and the elements up to and including plutonium is longevity. I'll bet a lot of astronomers were vying for scope access so they could look for elements in the island of stability. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Watching the Postironic Genesis (1)

sir fer (1232128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499160)

Thanks for that! I often wondered where the elements heavier than iron came from since iron is at the bottom of the nuclear-reaction "valley" in the energy-per nuclide curve, just never bothered to look it up and thanks to you I never need bother ;o)

Re:Watching the Postironic Genesis (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499306)

You're welcome. In return, would you care to explain how the "energy per nuclide curve" works?

CORRECTION - I made a mistake in that submission (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23497976)

I would like to correct this part of my submission:

SN 2007uy's collapse caused an X-ray burst of about 10^39 joules, most likely due to the 'shock break out' when the energy of the core's collapse finally reached the neutron star's surface."


That should've been SN 2008D, not SN 2007uy. I confused the old supernova with the new one somehow, which is pretty bad considering it even has the year as part of the name. The NEW supernova is the one whose X-ray burst released approximately 10^39 joules.

Also, the unnamed "scientists" who were lucky enough to find this are Alicia Soderberg of Princeton University & her colleagues, just so we give credit where credit is due.

- I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property [eff.org]

Re:CORRECTION - I made a mistake in that submissio (1)

locofungus (179280) | more than 6 years ago | (#23503136)

Also, the unnamed "scientists" who were lucky enough to find this are Alicia Soderberg of Princeton University & her colleagues, just so we give credit where credit is due.

Completely unrelated, but I had to go back and reread the first name after seeing that surname:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenna [wikipedia.org]

is another Soderberg that geeks might be familiar with.

Tim.

another supernova birth ... yawn (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498084)

Supernovas all look the same at birth but it's proper form to smile politely and congratulate the parents anyway.

Error in summary of Ars story (3, Insightful)

DrJay (102053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498166)

Whoever wrote the summary of the story on Ars had a bad day. The figure in Joules is right, but it came when the energy hit the surface of the existing star, not whatever remnant remains of the core.

Isn't that what I said? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23512118)

> The figure in Joules is right, but it came when the energy hit the surface of the existing star, not whatever remnant remains of the core.

Err, isn't that exactly what the submission said? And I quote: "the 'shock break out' when the energy of the core's collapse finally reached the neutron star's surface."

The energy is from the collapsing core. It hit the surface of the star. I guess I don't understand the difference, other than that being a clumsy place to point out that the star in question was a neutron star?

Which supernova? (1, Redundant)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498180)

Ars Technica: "SN 2007uy's collapse caused an X-ray burst of about 10^39 joules, most likely due to the 'shock break out' when the energy of the core's collapse finally reached the neutron star's surface."

I think they mean SN 2008D, the new supernova that was just detected by its X-ray flash. SN 2007uy was the old (31 Dec 2007) supernova they were observing at the time that SN 2008D went off.

Yep. My mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498368)

You are correct and I don't blame you for missing my correction [slashdot.org] , which is still at zero as of this writing :)

- I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property [eff.org]

automation (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499058)

So is there some sort of automated system which gets every major telescope on, or orbiting, the planet to drop what it's doing and point at supernovae (if they can see them) as they appear? Or does someone have to get a telephone directory out and start asking some unfortunate Chilean the way to the beach in a loud voice?

I understand that astronomers have been wanting to gather as much data as they can from as many telescopes as they can on supernovae as they appear, and have organised lots of telescopes en masse before, I just wonder by what means it's achieved.

I also think that it would be incredibly cool if, in the dusty control room of an observatory up a mountain in Hawaii or somewhere, there was a big red button labeled "push in case of supernova", which grabbed the co-ordinates currently being observed, and took over every other telescope on the planet to point at them.

Also, have they done interferometry with this data? because that would be an awesomely large telescope diameter (and awesomely small resolution angle).

Re:automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23502558)

Somewhere in-between - the IAU provides a notification mailing list http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/cbat.html


Optical interferometry requires obscenely precise time synchronisation of the data. Possible, but only using hardware designed for the task.

Re:automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23503112)

In general there is no automated system. There are a few robotic telescopes that automatically observe gamma-ray bursts when they are detected, but as far as I know there is no telescope that does automated follow-up observations of supernovae. What usually happens is that astronomers request Target of Opportunity time at various observatories. This is time that is set aside to observe unpredictable events, like supernovae, or gamma-ray bursts. There can be some politics involved over who exactly gets to observe these sorts of events.

Well that about does it... (1)

sir fer (1232128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499186)

As far as rare events, go, there has been one tsunami (boxing day tsunami), one spectacular comet (McNaught) and now a super-nova witnessed from the beginning...any other rare events we can look forward to?

Any signal on a neutrino telescope? (3, Interesting)

flabbergasted (518911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500042)

Were any neutrino telescopes collecting data at the time? If so, did they see a signal? The delay between the time of arrival of the X-ray burst and the neutrino signal would put bounds on the mass of the neutrino. Given the distance to the supernova, there probably wasn't much of a signal, but it would be interesting to know if anything was seen.

Re:Any signal on a neutrino telescope? (2, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23502518)

The delay between the time of arrival of the X-ray burst and the neutrino signal would put bounds on the mass of the neutrino.

Actually, the neutrino burst would arrive before the X-ray burst. The neutrinos are released as the degenerate gas at the stellar core collapses to neutronium; they pass through the surrounding material as if it wasn't even there, and set out into the universe immediately.

Once the neutron core has formed, further infalling matter hits the hardest surface in the universe, and this produces a colossal shock. The X-ray burst is released only when this shock wave reaches the surface of the star. That won't take long, but it's long enough; the neutrinos are already far out into space.

The principle still holds, of course; the neutrino mass affects the neutrino velocity, and so the timing of the two bursts will give us data on those quantities. But the delay will probably be in quite the opposite direction to what you suggested.

Re:Any signal on a neutrino telescope? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#23503156)

But as the detectors are running 24/7, there might be a spike.
OTOH, this isnt andromeda, so not sure about what countrates to expect. Not a lot, after a small rule-of-thumb calculation, even in the best detectors...

Re:Any signal on a neutrino telescope? (1)

Scott Carnahan (587472) | more than 6 years ago | (#23524276)

The neutrinos are released as the degenerate gas at the stellar core collapses to neutronium; they pass through the surrounding material as if it wasn't even there, and set out into the universe immediately.

This is mostly true. During core collapse, the high density drops the mean free path of a neutrino to a few meters, and the neutrinos become energy carriers in a short-lived equilibrating process. The resulting neutrino-neutron reactions are what allow elements heavier than Bismuth to form (s-process products tend to be too neutron-heavy to survive), and the net outward transfer of energy contributes to the rebound shock.

tro7l (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23500122)

Usenet is rou#6hly

NGC-2770? (1)

zapakh (1256518) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500366)

Looks like the USS Drox [wikia.com] just went supercritical.
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