A gargantuan explosion ripped apart a star perhaps 150 times more massive than our sun in a relatively nearby galaxy in the most powerful and brightest supernova ever observed, astronomers said on Monday.
And there is one such star in our own Milky Way galaxy that appears to be on the brink of dying in just such a supernova.
The discovery team leader Nathan Smith of the University of California at Berkeley said, ‘It blew the core of the star apart, blew it into smithereens, sending all those heavy metals into space’ at a speed of about 9.3 million miles per hour, Smith said. And it has been shining at levels brighter than other supernovae for several months, Smith said.
The supernova, designated as SN 2006gy, occurred 240 million light years away in a galaxy called NGC 1260. The explosion occurred long ago but was detected last year after its light traveled many, many trillions of miles (km) before it could be observed from Earth.