back to article Champagne supernova in the sky: Shockwaves seen breaking star

The Kepler space telescope is best known for its planet-hunting prowess, but in a paper just accepted by the Astrophysical Journal it's racked up another first: sighting a shockwave ripping a star apart as it goes supernova. Called by boffins the “shock breakout”, the shockwave is the “bounce” that happens when the star …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Spotting a wave from 1 billion light-years away

    Well that's it for today's high score. Nobody's going to do better than that.

    Well done Kepler & team !

  2. Mage Silver badge

    Safe distance

    Certainly the sort of wave you want to watch from a safe distance. What is the safe distance?

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: Safe distance

      The safe distance for your average over the counter firework is around 20-30 meters. A star is a lot bigger than a firework, so you'd probably need to scoot back a little further.

      It'll be the radiation that will get you though. Obligatory XKCD Reference.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Safe distance

        Got it - stand back just a little bit further.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Safe distance

      Safe so you aren't incinerated, safe so your biosphere isn't irradiated or safe so you don't burn your retinas out?

    3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Safe distance

      We've survived them at 200 parsecs.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Safe distance

        Any closer than 100 Light-years would be worrysome. Anything closer than 30 Ly is probable extinction-level event. Luckily there are no red supergiants within 100 Ly of Earth at present. Betelgeuse will be spectacular but safe when it explodes some time well within the next million years.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: Safe distance

          "Any closer than 100 Light-years would be worrysome."

          As I said, nobody noticed the effects of Vela Junior, which was at ~60 light years. The ~300pc claim sounds like the dubious Firestone paper which predicts atmospheric effects many orders of magnitude stronger than we would observe in reality.

  3. Mud5hark

    Plot!

    An hour you say? I feel a story coming on. "Captain, that red dwarf over there just went through shock breakout, we have 30 minutes to get to safe distance!"

    1. Blofeld's Cat
      Mushroom

      Re: Plot!

      "... we have 30 minutes to get to safe distance ..."

      "Very well, Number One. Tell the PPI Recovery Agents, Navigation Sub-committee that I will be holding a course-change meeting in fifteen minutes.

      Now go away and let me finish my bath, there's a good chap."

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Plot!

        Upvoted and have a pint on me for one of the best Adams references ever on El Reg.

        (Oh, and well done to the previous poster for setting the scene)

  4. Little Mouse
    Mushroom

    "first sighting of sun-cracking aftershocks..."

    Phew. Not that Sun.

    Colour me foolish.

  5. genghis_uk
    Mushroom

    Supernova Fusion

    (good name for a band?)

    <quote>It's an important part of our understanding of how heavy elements form, because supernovae provide the energy that assembles hydrogen and helium into heavier atoms</quote>

    Not quite true - the sun produces a large number of heavier atoms in its normal operation (depending o the size of the sun). Supernovae provide the energy to produce the really heavy atoms.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Supernova Fusion

      I think (but may be wrong) that stars normal fusion process can create atoms up to iron, above that and fusion is not generating energy so the star's fusion engine stalls and collapses. That final supernova burst is what powers the creation of heavier atoms (and, of course, releases all of the stuff above hydrogen/helium that we need to exist out in to space so eventually planets form, life arises, porn is created, etc...).

      1. richardcox13

        Re: Supernova Fusion

        > I think (but may be wrong) that stars normal fusion process can create atoms up to iron[…]

        You're not wrong.

        Fe-56 to be precise.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Supernova Fusion

        (and, of course, releases all of the stuff above hydrogen/helium that we need to exist out in to space so eventually planets form, life arises, porn is created, etc...).

        And Lemmy.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Supernova Fusion

        This table claims that "large" stars can conventionally synthesize some trans-ferrous elements, all the way up to Ytterbium. Apparently that happens via the s process (slow neutron capture; some neutrons decay into protons, transforming a heavy isotope of one element into the next element with one fewer neutron).

    2. MT Field
      Thumb Down

      Re: Supernova Fusion

      Normal fusion process only makes the first few elements. The bigger ones start getting made as the massive star goes through a series of partial collapses, ending with the really heavy ones that only get made in the supernova explosion itself.

      Oh and, PLEASE EL REG INDICATE WHEN A PICTURE IS AN ARTISTS IMPRESSION AND NOT AN ACTUAL IMAGE

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        @MT Field

        Rule of thumb : if it's outside our solar system and not a galaxy, it's generally an artists impression.

        1. MT Field

          Re: @MT Field

          @Pascal Yes, you and I both know that ...

  6. knarf

    this huge extra light that fades befor you get the normal explosion.”

    Normal supernova explosion!

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