24/7 Space News
Dead stars cast long shadows: WVU astronomer hunts for the glowing ghosts of supernovas
file illustration only
Dead stars cast long shadows: WVU astronomer hunts for the glowing ghosts of supernovas
by Staff Writers
Morgantown WV (SPX) Aug 30, 2023

A West Virginia University astronomer is searching the Milky Way for debris left behind by supernovas, the violent explosions that occur when massive stars die.

After a supernova explosion, material that was part of the star expands outward, forming a shell or "remnant." According to Loren Anderson, professor at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, studying supernova remnants is "essential for understanding the properties and dynamics of our galaxy - but there is a severe discrepancy in the number of supernova remnants we would expect to see compared to the relatively low number we have detected."

Around 300 to 400 supernova remnants have been identified in the Milky Way, but studies of similar galaxies suggest closer to 1,000 supernova remnants likely exist in this galaxy. With $331,170 in National Science Foundation funding, Anderson will close that gap. He believes he could double the number of known supernova remnants by the end of his three-year study.

Identifying supernova remnants requires sensitive data and can be challenging. For instance, Anderson said supernova remnants are often confused with the much more numerous HII regions, clouds of dense plasma that surround massive stars.

Working with graduate student Timothy Faerber of Potomac, Maryland, Anderson will use radio wavelength data from the Very Large Array and MeerKAT telescopes to identify supernova remnant candidates, combining machine-learning software with old-school scanning "by eye." This method will enable Anderson to discover new supernova remnants, confirm suspected supernova remnants and remove incorrectly identified remnants from the catalog.

"This study is timely," said Anderson, astronomy professor and member of the WVU Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology. "Recent data from MeerKAT allow for the most sensitive search for supernova remnants yet, and recent works have identified hundreds of possible supernova remnants that need to be confirmed. We have already begun an initial search of a few square degrees of GPS data from the MeerKAT telescope and the results are incredibly promising."

He said his methodology is well suited to discovering supernova remnants in crowded parts of the inner galaxy, increasing the odds of finding newer remnants that still haven't spread out or dispersed far. Those "young, compact" remnants are especially valuable to researchers interested in supernovas' impacts on interstellar matter and radiation.

But Anderson said every newly confirmed remnant is an opportunity for detailed study - a chance to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the material flung out by a supernova explosion, for example, or to learn more about what the shock of a supernova does to other matter in the galaxy.

He added the project also marks an opportunity to find supernova remnants that are associated with pulsars. A pulsar is the ultra-dense, rotating core that remains after a star has exploded in a supernova. Even though pulsars and supernova remnants are both created by supernova explosions, they're rarely found in association.

Pulsars are important because their highly precise "pulsing" allows them to serve as cosmic clocks for astronomers, including Anderson's WVU colleagues who in June made international Dead stars cast long shadows: WVU astronomer hunts for the glowing ghosts of supernovass for discovering ripples in spacetime, thanks in large part to their study of pulsars.

Anderson's research group will work with the West Virginia Science Public Outreach Team, which trains WVU undergraduates to deliver STEM presentations to K-12 students, making classrooms part of current, cutting-edge science that's happening locally.

None of WV SPOT's existing presentations showcase supernovas, Anderson said, so they will develop a new module that also provides a general overview of radio telescopes. The presentation will incorporate supernova remnant observations that will be acquired live from a telescope at the observatory in Green Bank, giving students hands-on, real-time experience with astronomy.

Related Links
WVU Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
New type of star gives clues to mysterious origin of magnetars
Munich, Germany (SPX) Aug 21, 2023
Magnetars are the strongest magnets in the Universe. These super-dense dead stars with ultra-strong magnetic fields can be found all over our galaxy but astronomers don't know exactly how they form. Now, using multiple telescopes around the world, including European Southern Observatory (ESO) facilities, researchers have uncovered a living star that is likely to become a magnetar. This finding marks the discovery of a new type of astronomical object - massive magnetic helium stars - and sheds light on t ... read more

China continues to make strides in space breeding technique

Artificial star

Station Hosts 11 Crewmates from Five Countries

A multinational crew blasts off from Florida, heading for the International Space Station

Sea launch 1st by Chinese private entity

Japan launches telescope and moon lander following weather delays

Another successful hot-fire test for Ariane 6 upper stage

Pulsar Fusion forms partnership with University of Michigan for electric propulsion

China publishes new datasets obtained by Mars, lunar probes

Sols 3932-3933: Touch and Go, Go, Go!

Mars helicopter Ingenuity completes 56th flight

Copy and Paste at Gale Crater: Sols 3934-3935

China solicits names for manned lunar exploration vehicles

From rice to quantum gas: China's targets pioneering space research

China to launch "Innovation X Scientific Flight" program, applications open worldwide

Scientists reveal blueprint of China's lunar water-ice probe mission

Vodafone and Amazon's Project Kuiper to extend connectivity in Africa and Europe

SpaceX sends 22 new Starlink satellites into orbit in 60th launch of 2023

Intuitive Machines announces $20M equity investment

LeoStella and Hera Systems Establish Strategic Alliance

SatixFy announces strategic $60M transaction with MDA

ReOrbit completes oversubscribed seed funding round

Terran Orbital unveils new product line of seven satellite buses

A system to keep cloud-based gamers in sync

Newly discovered planet has longest orbit yet detected by the TESS mission

Thermometer molecule confirmed on exoplanet WASP-31b

New giant planet evidence of possible planetary collisions

Hot Jupiter blows its top

SwRI will lead Hubble, Webb observations of Io, Jupiter's volcanic moon

In the service of planetary science, astrophysics and heliophysics

Mysterious Neptune dark spot detected from Earth for the first time

Neptune's Disappearing Clouds Linked to the Solar Cycle

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.