With ‘precise measurement,’ scientists will be able to solve a cosmic enigma thanks to the arrival of a supernova.
NASA astronomers are anticipating the return of Supernova Requiem, a cosmic fireworks display that could aid scientists in determining the universe’s expansion rate.
A star in the constellation Cetus died a fiery death some 10 billion years ago when it exploded into a spectacular supernova. Some of the light from the explosion reached Earth, and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope detected three separate points of light in 2016. The supernova’s light has been flickering on and off like a malfunctioning lightbulb due to a cosmic quirk known as gravitational lensing, and researchers anticipate it will resurface in our telescopes somewhere in 2037.
This will be the fourth known viewing of the supernova, which erupted in the galaxy cluster MACS J0138, according to NASA.
Thousands of galaxies of diverse shapes and sizes, weighing millions and billions of times more than our Sun, might be found in galactic clusters.
Galactic clusters dramatically strain the fabric of space and time due to their massive aggregate mass, causing all light travelling through to alter courses.
Gravitational lensing is a phenomenon that was predicted by Albert Einstein’s seminal theory of general relativity in 1915.
In 2016, gravitational lensing caused the Requiem Supernova to look as three rather than one point of light.
The light from the supernova was split and scattered when it went through the MACS J0138 cluster.
Even more surprising, a comparison of Hubble images from 2016 and 2019 reveals that the supernova’s brightness has completely vanished.
“Each of the three objects was associated with a lensed image of a faraway large galaxy,” said Gabe Brammer of the Cosmic Dawn Center at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
“It immediately suggested to me that it wasn’t a faraway galaxy, but rather a transient source in this system that had faded from view in the 2019 photographs like a flickering light bulb.”
The light, however, will not be lost forever, as astronomers anticipate that it will resurface in the next 16 years.
When it does appear again, scientists believe they will be able to narrow down a cosmic figure that has been hotly contested in recent years: the universe’s expansion rate.
Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer, was the first to make a firsthand observation. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”