The search for exploding stars

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The search for exploding stars


  Last updated October 13, 2017 at 1:31 pm


ANU is inviting everyone with an interest in astronomy to join a search that the University is leading for exploding stars called supernovae.

Supernovae, which are explosions as bright as 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 lightning bolts, will help astrophysicists at ANU determine how fast the Universe is growing.

ANU astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker said scientists can measure the distance of a supernova from Earth by calculating how much the light from the exploding star fades.

“Using exploding stars as markers all across the Universe, we can measure how the Universe is growing and what it’s doing,” said Dr Tucker from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“We can then use that information to better understand dark energy, the cause of the Universe’s acceleration.”

Fellow astrophysicist Dr Anais Möller said SkyMapper, a 1.3-metre telescope, is taking thousands of new images of the southern sky every month for the supernova search project.

“SkyMapper is the only telescope that is doing a comprehensive survey of the southern sky looking for supernovae and other interesting transient events at these distances.

“We are examining an area 10,000 times larger than the full moon every week. As well as finding Type Ia supernovae, which we use to measure how the Universe is expanding, we will also find other types of supernovae that change in brightness with time – ranging from a couple of weeks to months.

“If we discover supernovae early we have a good chance of understanding them, as well as having better measurements for the expansion of the Universe.”

People can participate in the ANU citizen science project here to join the search for exploding stars.

From searching for supernovas to consulting with film studios; 24 hours in the life of Dr Brad Tucker will have you seeing starts! Read more in the Winter 2017 edition of ANU Reporter magazine.

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