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Astronomers reveal super clear image of star graveyard in Milky Way

The image shows five previously hidden supernova remnants. The colours represent heat, with purple denoting the coolest regions, followed by blue, green and red, with white highlighting the hottest parts. (R. Kothes (NRC) and the PEGASUS team)Premium
The image shows five previously hidden supernova remnants. The colours represent heat, with purple denoting the coolest regions, followed by blue, green and red, with white highlighting the hottest parts. (R. Kothes (NRC) and the PEGASUS team)

Approximately once every 100 years, a star in the Milky Way is predicted to go supernova. These powerful explosions, which are the dramatic final stages of massive stars as they run out of fuel, can eject enormous clouds of dust and gas many light years away from the star

Astronomers have made a significant discovery through detailed radio observations of the Milky Way. They have identified the remains of nearly two dozen supernovae (explosive deaths of stars). This discovery opens up the possibility for finding many more such events within our galaxy. The use of radio observations allowed for a more in-depth analysis of these remains.

Approximately once every 100 years, a star in the Milky Way is predicted to go supernova. These powerful explosions, which are the dramatic final stages of massive stars as they run out of fuel, can eject enormous clouds of dust and gas many light years away from the star.

Before fading away, such "supernova remnants" can last for tens of thousands of years. Because these remnants frequently contain heavy elements that give rise to other stars, planets, and even life itself, studying them can provide useful insights into the Galaxy.

Numerous such remnants have been discovered all over the Milky Way, but astronomers believe they have only observed a small portion of the total number. Many are too faint to be picked up, but the majority are located by observing radio emissions from the remnants as they expand, revealing their shapes that would otherwise be invisible.

According to Brianna Ball, a student of astronomy at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, "there's this missing supernova-remnant problem. We know how many we should see, and we see a lot fewer than that."

However, on 16 January, a project run by Ball unveiled a fresh approach to finding supernova remnants. In order to find previously undiscovered supernova remnants in a region of the night sky, it combined the observing power of the Parkes Observatory, a single dish in New South Wales, Australia, with that of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), a radio telescope consisting of 36 antennas in Western Australia.

Roland Kothes, a radio astronomer at the National Research Council of Canada, who is based in Penticton and Ball’s supervisor said, “We discovered 21 new candidates. This image was the first test that we did, and it worked spectacularly well." The work is yet to be published.

Five of the 21 recently discovered supernova remnants can be seen in the image the team published, including one with a figure-of-eight shape. The Milky Way's spiral arms, the Norma Arm and the dense Galactic Center, both heavily obstructed by dust and gas, are where the image was taken.

According to Carlos Badenes, an astronomer who studies supernova remnants at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania said thatdiscovering new remnants can help us learn more about "the kinds of stars that explode as supernovae."

Last year, ASKAP started a five-year survey of the Southern Hemisphere, which contains half of the visible Galaxy. More supernova remnants ought to be discovered as a result.

Ball said, "We’re detecting sources that previous telescopes might not have been able to detect because they didn’t have the resolution or sensitivity.We’re hoping it will uncover a large population."

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