Texas Supernova Search

Texas Supernova Search is one of many ongoing projects to identify and record supernova events. The project is led by Robert Quimby and to date has found 35 supernovae, 29 of which they were the first to report on. In addition they have discovered 12 novae (including a probable LBV), in M31 and M33 and 6 dwarf novae.[1]

The project's most notable successes are SN 2005ap and SN 2006gy, the 2 most powerful supernovae yet recorded. SN 2005ap was an extremely energetic type II supernova. It is reported to be the brightest supernova yet recorded, twice as bright as the previous record holder, SN 2006gy. [2] Although SN 2005ap was twice as bright at its peak than SN 2006gy it was not as energetic overall as the former brightened and dimmed in a typical period of a few days whereas the latter remained very bright for many months. SN2005ap was about 300 times brighter than normal for a type II supernova. It has been speculated that this supernova involved the formation of a quark star. [3]

Time magazine listed the discovery of SN 2006gy as third in its Top 10 Scientific Discoveries for 2007.[4]

Texas Supernova Search

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Outline of astronomy

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to astronomy:

Astronomy – studies the universe beyond Earth, including its formation and development, and the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects (such as galaxies, planets, etc.) and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth (such as the cosmic background radiation).

SN 2005ap

SN 2005ap was an extremely energetic type Ic supernova in the galaxy SDSS J130115.12+274327.5. With a peak absolute magnitude of around −22.7, it is the second-brightest hypernova yet recorded, twice as bright as the previous record holder, SN 2006gy, though SN 2005ap was eventually surpassed by ASASSN-15lh. It was initially classified as type II-L, but later revised to type Ic. It was discovered on 3 March 2005, on unfiltered optical images taken with the 0.45 m ROTSE-IIIb (Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment) telescope, which is located at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas, by Robert Quimby, as part of the Texas Supernova Search that also discovered SN 2006gy. Although it was discovered before SN 2006gy, it was not recognized as being brighter until October 2007. As it occurred 4.7 billion light years from Earth, it was not visible to the naked eye.

Although SN 2005ap was twice as bright at its peak than SN 2006gy, it was not as energetic overall, as the former brightened and dimmed in a typical period of a few days whereas the latter remained very bright for many months. SN 2005ap was about 300 times brighter than normal for a type II supernova. It has been speculated that this hypernova involved the formation of a quark star. Quimby has suggested that the hypernova is of a new type distinct from the standard type II supernova, and his research group have identified five other supernovae similar to SN 2005ap and SCP 06F6, all of which were extremely bright and lacking in hydrogen.

Supernova

A supernova ( plural: supernovae or supernovas, abbreviations: SN and SNe) is a transient astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of the life of a massive star, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final, titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a "new" bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months or years.

Supernovae are more energetic than novae. In Latin, nova means "new", referring astronomically to what appears to be a temporary new bright star. Adding the prefix "super-" distinguishes supernovae from ordinary novae, which are far less luminous. The word supernova was coined by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky in 1931.

Only three Milky Way, naked-eye supernova events have been observed during the last thousand years, though many have been observed in other galaxies. The most recent directly observed supernova in the Milky Way was Kepler's Supernova in 1604, but the remnants of recent supernovae have also been found. Observations of supernovae in other galaxies suggest they occur on average about three times every century in the Milky Way, and that any galactic supernova would almost certainly be observable with modern astronomical telescopes.

Theoretical studies indicate that most supernovae are triggered by one of two basic mechanisms: the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star or the sudden gravitational collapse of a massive star's core. In the first instance, a degenerate white dwarf may accumulate sufficient material from a binary companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature enough to trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star. In the second case, the core of a massive star may undergo sudden gravitational collapse, releasing gravitational potential energy as a supernova. While some observed supernovae are more complex than these two simplified theories, the astrophysical mechanics have been established and accepted by most astronomers for some time.

Supernovae can expel several solar masses of material at speeds up to several percent of the speed of light. This drives an expanding and fast-moving shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium, sweeping up an expanding shell of gas and dust observed as a supernova remnant. Supernovae are a major source of elements in the interstellar medium from oxygen through to rubidium. The expanding shock waves of supernova can trigger the formation of new stars. Supernova remnants might be a major source of cosmic rays. Supernovae might produce strong gravitational waves, though, thus far, the gravitational waves detected have been from the merger of black holes and neutron stars.

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