‘Star That Would Not Die’ Explodes for a Record 600 Days

Comparison of 1954 outburst to 1993 shot. Image: POSS/DSS/LCO/S. Wilkinson
Most type II supernovae start to fade within 130 days, but this star couldn’t stop exploding.

By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

Massive stars do not go gently to their deaths, opting instead to explode into radiant supernovae. These stellar detonations are among the brightest events in the observable universe, enabling thousands of them to be discovered and studied by astronomers.

But no known supernova has ever behaved like the one named iPTF14hls, which is described this week in Nature as „the star that would not die.“

First spotted in September 2014 by the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) survey in San Diego, the luminous event was classified as a type II-P supernovainvolving a behemoth star at least 50 times more massive than the Sun. These catastrophic type II explosions normally shine for 130 days at the most, so astronomers were perplexed when iPTF14hls continued to sparkle well past this projected timeline.

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