An international research team discovered the first recorded "ultra-stripped supernova," a rare, faint type of supernova that is believed to play a role in the formation of binary neutron star systems.
Discovery of the “ultra-stripped supernova” is expected to advance our understanding of a wide variety of topics ranging from gravitational waves to the origin of precious metals like gold and platinum. It is the collision between two neutron stars that is believed to produce a variety of heavy elements, including precious metals. The results are published in Science.
A neutron star is a dense, compact object left behind when a massive star sheds most of its outer mass in a supernova explosion. Thus a neutron star binary system must have started out as a binary system of two massive stars. But this posed a problem because it was believed the second explosion would expel most of the remaining mass and make the system unstable rather than forming a neutron star binary system.
A research team including Takashi Moriya at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) predicted the existence of an ultra-stripped supernova. A team led by Kishalay De, a PhD student at California Institute of Technology, searched the data archive of the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) and found "iPTF14gqr," a peculiar supernova akin to the one predicted by Japanese scientists.