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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Astronomers Witness The Death Of A Star

On January 9th of this year, astronomers using a NASA X-ray satellite to spy on a star considered to be near death, observed another star in the same galaxy as it started to explode. "A star exploded right before my eyes," lead author Alicia Soderberg, an astrophysics researcher at Princeton University, said Wednesday in a teleconference. She compared the event to "winning the astronomy lottery. We caught the whole thing from start-to-finish on tape." According to the researchers less than one percent of all stars will end their life in supernova. "As much energy is released in one second by the death of a star as by all of the other stars you can see in the visible universe," said University of California at Berkeley astronomy professor Alex Filippenko. The outburst was 100 billion times brighter than Earth's sun, so bright it flooded the satellite's instrument, giving it a picture akin to "pointing your digital camera at the sun," Soderberg said. CNN has more here.