In the first month of 2014, astronomers looked into space and watched as two stars went Supernova and provided a huge glimpse into an area of understanding about our Universe that we knew almost nothing about before.
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The event – poetically dubbed SN2014J – belongs to a class of supernovas scientists call type Ia. All type Ia objects/events blow up in a similar fashion, letting astronomers use them as measuring sticks for figuring out the size and shape of our Universe. But until event SN2014J, nobody knew exactly how type Ia supernova work, meaning those sizes and shapes were potentially riddled with errors.
SN2014J exploded in the M82 Galaxy, roughly 12 million light-years away from us, but still the closest type Ia supernova in decades. It was so close, astronomers were able to confirm theories about how these supernovas start out – and it turns out the begin as a White Dwarf star.
Details about SN2014J suggest that two separate White Dwarf stars collided with each other.
The data and findings gleamed from the event support the idea that type Ia Supernovas suffer from “Stellar Amnesias”, meaning they loose identifying characteristics of their earlier starry selves and become nearly identical to other Supernova once they explode – just as astronomers had counted on.
There’s 99 more stories from 2014. Check out the Best of 2014 series here.