Supernovas: Astronomers Prepare for Giant Crash

Supernovas: Astronomers Prepare for Giant Crash

Many amateur astronomers have fairly advanced equipment that can also analyze light using a technique called spectroscopy. Using spectroscopes on telescopes, astronomers can see how fast stellar matter is being ejected into space, and what elements it contains.

Therefore, ordinary people will play a crucial role as researchers uncover the secrets of supernovae.

There’s a catch, though. To make the most of the situation, telescopes need to target the supernova from the moment it starts, preferably before it’s visible in the sky. Fortunately, scientists have an ingenious solution.

Ghost particles come first.

Although scientists can't predict where and when a supernova will occur, they can still trigger the reaction before the light from the explosion reaches Earth. They do this by exploiting the fact that supernovae emit a special type of elementary particle called neutrinos.

These particles are formed when the interior of a star collapses, and travel straight through the outer layers of the star – at nearly the speed of light. Neutrinos are emitted in all directions, and some will hit Earth.

The vast majority of them will pass right through our planet, because neutrinos rarely interact with other matter. Like ghosts, they can walk through anything. But some neutrinos will be detected by large neutrino detectors, such as the Super-Kamiokande in Japan and the IceCube in the South Pole.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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