Monday, March 23, 2009

Star Explodes Too Early: Theory May Need Tweaking or Trashing

"Star Explodes, and So Might Theory " (March 22, 2009)

"A massive star a million times brighter than our sun exploded way too early in its life, suggesting scientists don't understand stellar evolution as well as they thought.

" 'This might mean that we are fundamentally wrong about the evolution of massive stars, and that theories need revising,' said Avishay Gal-Yam of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

"According to theory, the doomed star, about 100 times our sun's mass, was not mature enough to have evolved a massive iron core of nuclear fusion ash, considered a prerequisite for a core implosion that triggers the sort of supernova blast that was seen.

"The new study involves old images that have just been compared. It is one of the rare instances where the progenitor of an exploded star has been found...."

Exciting stuff, for someone who's interested in astronomy, stellar physics, and cosmology. It's great, when data backs up a theory: but at least as exciting when data doesn't match. That means that there's more data - and more to learn.

Sometimes lots more to learn.

It's possible that SN 2005gl - that's the star that blew up unexpectedly - was a binary before going boom - or there might be another explanation.

Before Reading More, Bear in Mind that I'm Running a Fever, and Read Science Fiction

There's no evidence to support another possibility, but that won't stop me. Actually, two possibilities:
  • SN 2005gl is a mining operation: Someone with a bit of an edge on humanity, technologically, wanted heavy elements in large quantities. The easiest, fastest, way to get the job done was to induce a supernova.
  • There was a war going on in the galaxy NGC 266 about 215 million years back, and SN 2005gl is the flash from a particularly large attack.
Do I think either is probable? No. Possible? Barely - but I wouldn't be a penny on it.

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