August 13, 2022

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The James Webb Space Telescope discovered the first supernova.  What do we know about her?

The James Webb Space Telescope discovered the first supernova. What do we know about her?

The James Webb Space Telescope surprises even astronomers themselves. This time it did so by observing a star exploding in the form of a supernova.

An important role in this discovery was played by the NIRCam camera, as it observed a bright object in the galaxy called SDSS.J141930.11 + 5251593. It is about 3-4 billion light-years from Earth, and a distinctive feature appears to be the sudden rapid decrease in brightness over the course of five days. This indicates that the new telescope may have experienced a “new” explosion.

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But where did the surprise among astronomers come from? The James Webb Space Telescope was not designed to search for supernovae. Usually, these types of tasks are handled by instruments capable of scanning large areas of the sky in quick succession. In this case, it’s a telescope that captures a very small area of ​​the universe in amazing detail.

The so-called supernova was detected in the first week of scientific activity of the James Webb Space Telescope, which indicates that it will be able to observe supernovae regularly. This is an especially tempting prospect when we consider that this new equipment is expected to look very deeply, all the way back hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang. This in turn leads to the expectation that astronomers will be able to see some of the first objects to end the “dark ages” in the history of the universe.

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It is possible that these types of stars have relatively simple chemical compositions, especially compared to those that appeared later. These stars consisted mainly of helium and hydrogen, and their masses were 200 to 300 times greater than the mass of the Sun. Their life was surprisingly short, although it undoubtedly ended in an amazing way. However, we can count on the fact that the James Webb Space Telescope was not only lucky, but will indeed repeat this feat.