#AstroMiniBR: the record of the death of a star

Every Saturday, TecMundo and #AstroMiniBR bring together five relevant and fun astronomical curiosities produced by the collaborators of the non-Twitter profile to spread the knowledge of this science that is the oldest of all!

#1: A Star among Stars

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was a British-American astronomer responsible for one of the most important discoveries in astronomy. Cecilia Payne discovered that stars are largely made of the two lightest chemical elements there are: hydrogen and helium. This she showed, at a time when most scientists believed that the composition of the Sun was similar to that of the Earth, which came to result in the conclusion that hydrogen is by far the most common chemical element in stars and therefore , in the Universe. She made this discovery at age 25, while doing her doctoral research, and furthermore, established that stars can be classified according to their temperatures. Payne was one of the most brilliant scientists of all time and was the most eminent astronomer of her day. She was also the first to be appointed a full professor at Harvard University and the first to chair a department of astronomy.

#2: Everything can be too small from the right perspective

That the Sun is the largest celestial body in the Solar System and Jupiter the largest among the planets is no surprise to anyone! But how big really are these giants? Well, Jupiter has a diameter of about 142,984 km at the equator and a diameter of approximately 133,708 km at its poles. This means that Jupiter is more than 11 times the diameter of Earth. Furthermore, its mass is equivalent to 318 Earth masses and its volume corresponds to 1,300 Earths! Some estimates suggest that if Jupiter were about 70 times more massive, it would likely have turned into a star rather than a planet. But even these impressive numbers are small compared to the Sun! Our Sun is 11 times wider than Jupiter. It has a diameter of 1.39 million kilometers and about 1,000 Jupiters could easily fit inside it!

#3: Not this time, Betelgeuse!

A study published in the scientific journal The Astrophysical Journal on the 6th, he presented the results of a work that visualized in real time the end of the life of a red supergiant star for the first time in history, contradicting the general expectation that Betelgeuse would be responsible for starring in this show. Astronomers were able to observe the final processes and rapid self-destruction of the massive star before it collapsed in a Type II supernova. The collected data show impressive records of dense circumstellar material surrounding the star at the time of the explosion. For this, the team used two telescopes located in Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Astronomy Institute at the University of Hawaii and the WM Keck Observatory on Maunakea. The observations were made during the last 130 days before the star’s final explosion and represent a significant advance in our understanding of how stars die. The star was detected by Pan-STARRS in the summer of 2020 and in the fall of the same year, the supernova lit up the sky in the telescope’s field of observation. The team then quickly captured the powerful event and obtained the first spectrum of its explosion, cataloged as SN 2020tlf.

#4: The Sounds of Dawn!

Caused by the interaction of solar particles with gas molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, the beautiful aurora phenomena usually occur near the planet’s poles, where the magnetic field is strongest. But what we didn’t know is that these events can, in certain rare circumstances, produce audible sounds. Reports of sounds coming from aurora were, historically, dismissed by scientists. But recent studies published from the year 2016 claim to have confirmed that the northern celestial lights are indeed capable of producing audible sounds. However, the sound that has been reported to resemble the sound of a piece of meat hitting a frying pan does not yet have a consensual explanation for its cause, and it remains an open question!

#5: The Brazilian Meteor Patrol

On the first Friday of the year (7), the Unesp Astronomy Observatory project in the city of Bauru consolidated a partnership initially established in 2015 with the national meteor patrol network. The project known as Patricia (acronym for Investigative Patrol of the Sky for Automatic Meteor Imaging) included the installation of a data collection station and now collaborates more intensively with the Brazilian Meteor Observation Network (BRAMON, its acronym in English). Brazilian Meteor Observation Network). The first record of a meteor passing took place on the night of the 7th, just a few hours after the equipment was installed, thus inaugurating another stage in the Brazilian celestial patrol!

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