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In a discovery that may reveal more about the origins of a mysterious star explosion, Type Iax supernova, the NASA astronomers have found a star system which is 110 million light years away that they believe might have led to the creation of a “zombie star” during the supernova.
Type Iax supernova is a less common variety of star explosion which is smaller and dimmer.
Saurabh Jha, study co-author and a Rutgers astronomer, said, “The astronomers have been searching for the star systems that produce Type Ia supernova explosions for decades.”
The NASA astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to make the unique finding.
The astronomers say they have made a unique finding that has refuted their older belief that most powerful stellar blasts always destruct stars in explosive supernovas.
They say instead these blasts leave behind a remnant called ‘zombie star’.
But what is a zombie star?
Usually, when the white dwarf stars supernova, they are basically destroyed. During the explosions, they expel the star’s matters into the space. However, in rare cases another type of supernova happens, and this time they are miniaturized form. During this event a lesser percentage of matter of the star is pushed out. In this way, the stars find a second life after the supernova event.
But why the supernova so important? Type Iax are closely linked to Type Ia, which helps in reducing a dying dwarf star to smithereens. Moreover, they are used as a tool to measure massive distances in space and determine expansion of universe.
“Type Ia’s are important as they are used to measure massive cosmic distances and the expansion of the universe. But we have very few constraints on how any white dwarf explodes,” Jha said in a statement.
“The similarities between Type Iax’s and normal Type Ia’s make comprehending Type Iax progenitors crucial. This becomes important especially because no Type Ia progenitor has been conclusively identified so far,” he said while adding, “This discovery shows us one way that you can get a white dwarf explosion.”
Study co-author and astrophysicist Curtis McCully said, “A white dwarf would just be totally gone usually during a supernova. In this case, the white dwarf is still just a white dwarf. How the companion star changed, if it survived the explosion, is another question.”
Astronomers say despite decades of searching, they have never encountered a Type Ia star before it exploded as they are too faint. This makes the zombie star discovery unique and special.
The study was published in the journal Nature on August 7.