Astronomers have observed a supernova unlike any ever observed before, and it might be strong evidence of an important kind of stellar death that would have shaped early galaxies.
The supernova, called SN2016iet, doesn’t fit into the classification schemes that scientists use for supernovae today.
“Finding something so distinct from everything we know about is exciting,” Edo Berger, study author and astronomy professor at Harvard University, told Gizmodo.
The Milky Way-mapping Gaia telescope first spotted the flash on 14 November 2016, and it was later re-found by sky-surveying telescopes including the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey and the Pan-STARRS Survey for Transients.
The astronomers continue observing the resulting blip today, including its brightness and the identity of the elements it contained.
For one, most supernovae flash once and then fade from astronomers’ view after a few months.