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New methods could make Milky Way supernova visible from Earth in next 50 yrs

Washington, Nov. 1 : Astronomers have deduced that sometime during the next 50 years, a supernova occurring in Milky Way galaxy is going to be visible from Earth.


According to them, the odds are nearly 100 percent that such a supernova would be visible to telescopes in the form of infrared radiation.

Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology, said that they see all these stars go supernova in other galaxies, and hey don't fully understand how it happens.

He said that the technologies have gotten so advance that they can learn enormously more about supernovae if they can catch the next one in Milky Way galaxy and study it with all our available tools.

Kochanek explained how technology is making the study of Milky Way supernovae possible. Astronomers now have sensitive detectors for neutrinos (particles emitted from the core of a collapsing star) and gravitational waves (created by the vibrations of the star's core) which can find any supernova occurring in our galaxy.

The question is whether we can actually see light from the supernova because we live in a galaxy filled with dust‚Euro"soot particles that Kochanek likened to those seen in diesel truck exhaust‚Euro"that absorb the light and might hide a supernova from our view.

Doctoral student Scott Adams said that despite the ease with which astronomers find supernovae occurring outside our galaxy, it wasn't obvious before that it would be possible to get complete observations of a supernova occurring within our galaxy.

He said that soot dims the optical light from stars near the center of the galaxy by a factor of nearly a trillion by the time it gets to us. Fortunately, infrared light is not affected by this soot as much and is only dimmed by a factor of 20.

By balancing all these factors, the astronomers determined that they have nearly a 100 percent chance of catching a prized Milky Way supernova during the next 50 years.

The findings have been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

--ANI (Posted on 02-11-2013)

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