Pristine circumstellar material in the young supernova remnant Cassiopeia A

Supernovae and their young remnants often interact with the circumstellar material ejected at the end of the progenitor stars’ lifetime. By studying the physical and chemical characteristics of this material, we can learn how massive stars stripped off their envelopes and exploded, which is crucial for understanding the connection between the diverse types of supernovae … Read more

Smash and Grab: A heavyweight stellar champion for dying stars

Dying stars that cast off their outer envelopes to form the beautiful yet enigmatic “planetary nebulae” (PNe) have a new heavy-weight champion, the innocuously named PNe “BMP1613-5406”. Massive stars live fast and die young, exploding as powerful supernovae after only a few million years. However, the vast majority of stars, including our own Sun, have … Read more

Researchers wonder if ancient supernovae prompted human ancestors to walk upright

A paper published today in the Journal of Geology makes the case: Supernovae bombarded Earth with cosmic energy starting as many as 8 million years ago, with a peak some 2.6 million years ago, initiating an avalanche of electrons in the lower atmosphere and setting off a chain of events that feasibly ended with bipedal hominins such … Read more