Stars go missing?


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Considering that today's lecture was made by the Dean Larson of the Eberly College of Science, I felt the need to find a topic that involved Stars and Galaxies. Therefore, I have found an article that actually explains how a Supergiant Star goes missing. You're probably thinking, a star going missing? What the, how would we not notice that until now? Well actually, finding the chain of events that led up to a Supernova is apparently a very difficult task, and so the only reason that we were able to make an exception for this phenomenon was because it occurred in the spiral galaxy known as M51. M51 is however a rather popular galaxy, and in more casual terms is called the Whirlpool Galaxy.

For those of you who don't know what the Whirlpool Galaxy is can watch an image tour of pictures taken by the Hubble here

Some facts of the Whirlpool Galaxy

-        The Whirlpool Galaxy is approximately 25 million light years away

-        It was discovered in 1773 by Charles Messiner

-        Other names include M51 and NGC 5194

-        It was recognized as a Spiral Galaxy by Lord Rosse, and therefore it became the first classified spiral galaxy

-        It is one of the most watched and most popular galaxies because of its beauty

-        It is contained in the constellation Canes Venatici

Now that we are situated with some background of the Whirlpool Galaxy and the whereabouts of this place, let us get into the meet of the subject.

This article is about a star that when "missing" when in reality is a Super Giant star that actually went into the final stages of its life. The fascinating thing about this Supernova however is that it was a type IIb Supernova, which is super rare (like 1 in every 10 stars rare). This supernova however, was not what would be expected from a Super Giant exploding. Scientists came up with two conclusions:

1)     "Perhaps a binary companions of the yellow supergiant that had been stripped down, nearly to its core, by the gravitational pull of its neighbor."

This team thought that "the progenitor was essentially this very stripped, very blue, and so it was unseen in the Hubble images" .... That the "yellow star was hiding the blue star that actually exploded"

2)     These guys found that "the giant star the Hubble had spotted at the site of the explosion had indeed been the progenitor".

Looking at the fact that they have two different conclusions, I can tell that they still aren't sure of what exactly happened during this rare supernova. Also what makes me a bit angry is that this wasn't a big deal when the supernova exploded. The title of this article is misleading because the star didn't go missing, rather it just exploded. 


Sources: "A Supergiant Star Goes Missing, and a Supernova Mystery Is Solved: Scientific American." A Supergiant Star Goes Missing, and a Supernova Mystery Is Solved: Scientific American. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sn2011dh-vanishing-star


supernova 2011dh


Question : What did you guys think about Dean Larson's lecture? Also, any astrology majors here?



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