Kepler telescope data sheds brilliant new light on dying star

The Kepler Telescope may no longer be operational, but it is still providing invaluable information to astronomers. Using data gathered by Kepler, researchers have been examining a dying star called SN 2018oh to learn about how, at the end of their lives, stars explode in a huge burst of light. The SN 2018oh supernova died around 170 million years ago, but because it is so far away it has taken until now for the light from the event to reach us.

The death of a star occurs fairly rarely in our galaxy, with an estimated one supernova occurring in a galaxy the size of the Milky Way every 50 years. But there are many other galaxies in the universe, and experts estimate that a star dies somewhere in the universe once every second or so. By looking beyond our galaxy and into other galaxies beyond, scientists can study the process of star death even millions of years after it has happened.

Now a team from the Australian National University (ANU) has combined data from both the Kepler telescope and ground-based telescopes to find out more about SN 2018oh. For starters, it’s a Type Ia supernova, a class found in certain binary systems (where two stars orbit around each other) in which one of the stars is a white dwarf. White dwarf stars are limited in how much mass they can absorb from their fellow binary stars, especially when they rotate slowly, and if they absorb too much mass they explode when their core temperature reaches the ignition temperature for carbon fusion.

Researchers believe that in the case of SN 2018oh, this explosion process was even more dramatic than usual. Normally, a Type Ia supernova will brighten for around three weeks before fading away; with SN 2018oh this process happened much more quickly — brightening and fading within just a few days. A lead researcher in the study, Dr. Brad Tucker, speculated that the other star in the binary system could be responsible for this unusual outcome: “It’s possible in the case of SN 2018oh that the shock wave from the exploding white dwarf ran into the companion star, creating an extremely hot and bright halo that accounts for the added brightness and heat we observed.”

Dr. Tucker also emphasized the importance of the Kepler data to their project: “The now retired Kepler Space telescope changed our view of the Universe — showing just how common planets around other stars are. It has also now revolutionized what we know about how stars end their lives in brilliant explosions.”

Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Contemporary review

Tired of carrying around keys? Make keyless entry so easy that all you have to do is have your phone nearby to open the door. It’s a little pricey, but sleek lines and simple features make the Kwikset Kevo Contemporary a great choice for…

The Sony Xperia XZ4 shines in case renders from accessory maker Olixar

Sony may have released the Xperia XZ3 in the past few months, but already it's preparing to release a follow-up, the Xperia XZ4. We're learning plenty about the phone now some details have started to leak out, and it's getting exciting.
Emerging Tech

Scientists debate mysterious flash of light in space, known as ‘The Cow’

On June 16, 2018 there was an unusual flash in the sky which puzzled astronomers around the world. NASA researchers have been collecting data on the event and have shared two competing theories for what could have caused it.

Having problems with your Xbox One console? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.