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supernovas

Illustration of a magnetar with blue magnetic field lines.
Abstractions blog

The Most-Magnetic Objects in the Universe Attract New Controversy

October 28, 2019

How do magnetars get so magnetic? A study of stellar explosions shows that the long-accepted theory might be wrong.

Thumbnail: stylized illustration of a supernova
astrophysics

Long-Lived Stellar Blast Kindles Hope of a Supernova We’ve Never Seen Before

September 12, 2019

A giant star’s death throes may offer the first evidence of a pair-instability supernova, and a glimpse of the first stars in the universe.

Art for "How Nearby Stellar Explosions Could Have Killed Off Large Animals"
Abstractions blog

How Nearby Stellar Explosions Could Have Killed Off Large Animals

January 15, 2019

Subatomic particles called muons are thought to have streamed through the atmosphere and irradiated megafauna like the monster shark megalodon.

Photo of Large Magellan Cloud rotating clockwise.
Abstractions blog

What Astronomers Are Learning From Gaia’s New Milky Way Map

May 8, 2018

A roundup of some of the most important discoveries gleaned so far from the Gaia space observatory’s new map of the galaxy.

‘Crazy’ Supernova Looks Like a New Kind of Star Death
astrophysics

‘Crazy’ Supernova Looks Like a New Kind of Star Death

November 8, 2017

Astronomers are mystified by a strange star explosion in a distant galaxy that might be a relic from an earlier cosmological era.

Abstractions blog

Cookie-Cutter Supernovas Might Come in Different Flavors

July 31, 2017

Astronomers thought that all Type Ia supernovas shine with the same brightness, making them incredibly useful cosmic yardsticks. But uncertainty over what causes these explosions has led researchers to reconsider their assumptions.

Supernova 1987A remnants
astrophysics

Lucky Break Leads to Controversial Supernova Discovery

July 5, 2017

Supernova hunters were able to train their telescopes on a recent eruption just hours after it exploded. What they found only adds to the growing list of questions surrounding these cosmic blasts.

astrophysics

A New Blast May Have Forged Cosmic Gold

March 23, 2017

For decades, researchers believed that violent supernovas forged gold and other heavy elements. But many now argue for a different cosmic quarry.