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'Firecracker Galaxy' Offers Double Blast

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posted on Nov, 26 2006 @ 03:41 PM
Really interesting.
There are so many things we have not seen from our universe.And it never dissapoints.

(DiscoveryNews)-Nov. 22, 2006 — Stars are blowing themselves to smithereens more often than usual in galaxy NGC 1316. Astronomers have stumbled onto two supernovae letting loose there just months apart, in addition to two previous mega-blasts in the last 26 years.

That makes the rate of exploding stars in NGC 1316 many times higher than any other known galaxy.

"It is actually very puzzling," said Neil Gehrels, a Swift investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "That's the most (supernovae) there have ever been in such a short time." A more typical rate is around one a century in a given galaxy.

So what makes NGC 1316 different? Not a lot, at least so far as researchers can tell. It's a large elliptical galaxy about 80 million light years away, believed to have recently collided and merged with a spiral galaxy, which may have something to do with the accelerated rate of supernovae — or not.

But the supernovae in NGC 1316 have the spectral fingerprints of Type 1A supernovae, which begin as small, dying white dwarf stars rather than supermassive ones.

There's no reason to believe that a galactic merger would create a larger number of white dwarfs than normal. So the mystery endures.

"This sort of thing is more of a cosmic coincidence than a cosmic Rosetta stone," said Nousek. He and graduate student Peter Brown have been hard at work monitoring and trying to make sense of the double explosions.

"The exact mechanism is not well understood," said Gehrels. "This is a fairly hot topic."

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