Scientists spot 1,800 supernovae in the distant universe

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Scientists have spotted thousands of dying stars in the process of exploding out of existence.

A team operating the 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope in Hawaii say they’ve identified roughly 1,800 new supernovae sitting as far as eight billion light years away.

The trove of new data, including several supernovae of a type known to be useful in calculating star distance, could help to unlock new clues on the expansion of the universe, researchers say.

A team including researchers from the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the universe (Kavli IPMU), Tohoku University, Konan University, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, School of Science, the University of Tokyo, and Kyoto University published the findings this week in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.

While supernovae are rare events, astronomers were able to capture ultra-sharp images using Suparu’s Hyper Suprihyper suprimeme-Cam, an 870 mega-pixel camera that can capture wide angles in one shot.

In the latest effort, the team repeatedly imaged the same portion of the night sky over the course of six months, revealing the supernova hiding in the distant universe based on how stars changed in brightness.

The discoveries include five super luminous supernovae, and roughly 400 Type Ia supernovae – 58 of which are situated more than 8 billion light years away.

This was possible thanks to the advanced capabilities of the Subaru telescope; it took Hubble more than 10 years to discover a comparable number supernovae.

‘The Subaru Telescope and Hyper Suprime-Cam have already helped researchers create a 3-D map of dark matter, and observation of primordial black holes, but now this result proves that this instrument has a very high capability finding supernovae very, very far away from Earth,’ said Professor Naoki Yasuda.

The new cache of Type Ia supernovae will help scientists calculate the expansion of the universe more accurately.

The discoveries could also shed light on the nature of dark energy.

 

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