ANI News: Exploding stars offer clues to dark energy

The Asian news wire service Asian News International has covered the SMU Physics Department’s recent supernovae discoveries. The article, “Exploding stars offer clues to dark energy,” was published Feb. 28. Light from two massive stars that exploded hundreds of millions of years ago recently reached Earth, and each event was identified as a supernova by SMU graduate students in the physics department.

Both supernovae were spotted with the Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment‘s robotic telescope ROTSE3b, which is now operated by SMU graduate students. ROTSE3b is at the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas near Fort Davis.

The Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union officially designated the discoveries as Supernova 2013X and Supernova 2012ha.

Ferrante and Dhungana made both discoveries as part of an international collaboration of physicists from nine universities. Everest and Sherpa were discovered with a fully automated, remotely controlled robotic telescope at the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory. The discovery is a first for the SMU collaboration members.

Read the full article.

EXCERPT:

Washington, February 28 (ANI): Observation of two bright exploding stars is improving the astronomical “tape measure” used to calculate the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, say scientists.

Light from two massive stars that exploded hundreds of millions of years ago recently reached Earth, and each event was identified as a supernova, Southern Methodist University scientists said.

A supernova discovered Feb. 6 exploded about 450 million years ago, said Farley Ferrante, a graduate student at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, who made the initial observation.

The exploding star is in a relatively empty portion of the sky labeled “anonymous” in the faint constellation Canes Venatici. Home to a handful of galaxies, Canes Venatici is near the constellation Ursa Major , best known for the Big Dipper.

A second supernova discovered Nov. 20 exploded about 230 million years ago, said Ferrante, who made the initial observation. That exploding star is in one of the many galaxies of the Virgo constellation.

Both supernovae were spotted with the Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment’s robotic telescope ROTSE3b, which is now operated by SMU graduate students. ROTSE3b is at the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Texas near Fort Davis.

The supernova that exploded about 450 million years ago is officially designated Supernova 2013X. It occurred when life on Earth consisted of creatures in the seas and oceans and along coastlines. Following naming conventions for supernova, Supernova 2013X was nicknamed “Everest” by Govinda Dhungana, an SMU graduate student who participated in the discovery.

The supernova that exploded about 230 million years ago is officially designated Supernova 2012ha. The light from that explosion has been en route to Earth since the Triassic geologic period, when dinosaurs roamed the planet.

“That’s fairly recent as these explosions go,” Ferrante said.

Dhungana gave the nickname “Sherpa” to Supernova 2012ha.

Everest and Sherpa are two of about 200 supernovae discovered worldwide in a given year, according to the scientists.

“Everest and Sherpa aren’t noteworthy for being the youngest, oldest, closest, furthest or biggest supernovae ever observed. But both, like other supernovae of their kind, are important because they provide us with information for further science,” Ferrante said.

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