Astronomers study star dust formation through SN2010jl supernova

Astronomers in Chile have researched a supernova called SN2010jl to learn more about cosmic stardust, including where it comes from and in how many stages. This supernova erupted from the UGC 5189A galaxy.

The astronomers, which utilized a big telescope from the European Southern Observatory for their studies, recently published their results to Nature, a journal. The team discovered that stardust, which allows for the creation of both terrestrial planets and stars, is influenced by supernovas.

These supernovas, which occur when a star implodes, expend energy in large dosages. While this fact has been well understood, what astronomers didn’t quite grasp was how stardust endured such a blast of energy.

Upon further exploration of the SN2010jl supernova, the team watched the supernova for months after it imploded, up to nine times total. They then tracked the same supernova after two and a half years one last time using near-infrared and visible wavelengths.

One of the main authors and researchers on the study, Christa Gall, who hails from Denmark’s Aarhus University, believes that the data they found reveals a lot about how stardust interacts with supernovae. “By combining the data from the nine early sets of observations we were able to make the first direct measurements of how the dust around a supernova absorbs the different colors of light. This allowed us to find out more about the dust than had been possible before,” she stated.

The team discovered that the reason that the stardust could survive had to do with a gas shell that’s formed after a supernova blows up. This shell is actually relatively cold and thus provides a great breeding ground for stardust. This is the first stage of formation. The second stage of stardust involves fast creation of the particles.

The team also noticed that the stardust from the SN2010jl supernova was pretty sizeable, measuring to nearly 4.2 micrometers in some instances. According to the researchers, this makes the stardust bigger than even the dust in the Milky Way.

Another author in the study, Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen’s Jens Hjorth, notes the second stage of stardust formation in relation to the size of the dust. “Our detection of large grains soon after the supernova explosion means that there must be a fast and efficient way to create them.”

If the team does continue to observe the SN2010jl supernova, they believe that in 25 years the stardust could contain half as much mass as the sun.