Kepler Space Telescope Data Revealed More Details On Dying Stars

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Even though the Kepler Space Telescope is not operational anymore, the data NASA scientists managed to retrieve from it revealed more details on dying stars. More specifically, Kepler recorded a lot of data on SN 2018oh, a dying star, and, now, researchers analyzed the data and learned more about how, at the end of their lives, stars explode in a massive burst of light.

The SN 2018oh supernova ended its life cycle about 170 million years ago but, because it was located very far from Earth, Kepler Space Telescope managed to record it live recently. That allowed astrophysicists to learn more about dying stars and how they end their lives in bursts of light we know as supernovae.

In the Milky Way, our home galaxy, supernovae rarely occur, as the astronomers estimate that one star dies once every 50 years. However, there are many other distant galaxies we can analyze. Kepler Space Telescope studied one of them and found SN 2018oh.

Kepler Space Telescope Data Revealed More Details On Dying Stars

Australian National University (ANU) researchers data from both the Kepler telescope and ground-based telescopes to learn more about SN 2018oh, to find out more about dying stars, in general. First, SN 2018oh is a Type Ia supernova, commonly identified in binary systems in which one of the stars is a white dwarf which is usually limited in how much matter it can absorb from its companion. When they suck to much mass from their fellow stars, white dwarfs are exploding.

SN 2018oh is different than other white dwarfs, according to the scientists. As the Australian astronomers reported, the SN 2018oh exploded in a more dramatic way than usual. While white dwarfs’ bursts of light last for a few weeks, the SN 2018oh supernova lasted for only a few days.

“It’s possible in the case of SN 2018oh that the shock wave from the exploding white dwarf ran into the companion star, creating an extremely hot and bright halo that accounts for the added brightness and heat we observed,” said Dr. Brad Tucker, one of the study’s authors. “The now-retired Kepler Space Telescope changed our view of the Universe, showing just how common planets around other stars are. It has also now revolutionized what we know about how stars end their lives in brilliant explosions,” he added.


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