Astronomers observed an explosion 180 million light-years away that was much flatter than previously thought. It was clear Fast Blue Optical Transient (FBOT) – an extremely rare class of stellar explosions that occur much less often than other explosions, such as supernovae. The first shiny FBOT was discovered in 2018 and was nicknamed “the cow” (MNRASMarch, 31st).
Starbursts are almost always spherical, because stars themselves are spherical. However, a few days after its discovery, this explosion was disc-shaped. This may be material that the star ejected just before its explosion.
There are a few possible explanations for this: the stars involved could have formed a disk just before they died, or they could be failed supernovae, where the star’s core collapses into a compact object, like a black hole or a neutron star, which then swallows up the rest of the star.
Astronomers made the discovery after accidentally seeing a flash of polarized light. They succeeded polarization flash using the astronomical equivalent of Polaroid sunglasses, which are part of the Liverpool Telescope in La Palma.
Scientists were able to deduce the shape of the explosion from the measured polarization. They actually saw something the size of our solar system, but in a galaxy 180 million light years away. They could then use this data to reconstruct the explosion’s three-dimensional shape and map its boundaries to see how flat it was. (EE)
“Food expert. Unapologetic bacon maven. Beer enthusiast. Pop cultureaholic. General travel scholar. Total internet buff.”