Scientific research has revealed in the past that half of all the calcium which can be found in the universe, including Earth, can be traced back to supernova explosions. Classified as calcium-rich supernovae, these events are quite difficult to find and study.
A team of researchers may offer answers to some of the biggest questions related to these elusive objects. They have achieved an impressive feat by managing to examine a supernova rich in calcium with the help of X-ray imaging, a procedure that offers a vast amount of information about the star during its last moments of existence.
New information infers that calcium-rich supernova are compact, and they release a layer of gas as they approach their explosive demise. When the explosion takes place, the matter will collide with other materials that can be found in the outer shell, releasing X-ray radiation.
This phenomenon, accompanied by high temperatures and impressive pressure, will favor the appearance of a chemical reaction that produces calcium. Initial X-ray bursts were spotted by an amateur astronomer who shared the information with a community of astronomy researchers.
All the calcium found in the universe comes from stars, but calcium-rich supernovas release vast amounts. Regular stars generate small amounts of calcium by burning helium during their lives, while supernovas release a similar amount in seconds. Calcium emissions are a great way to cool down and spread the energy resulted from the explosion.
While the Hubble Space Telescope has been observing the galaxy where the explosion took place in the last 25 years, it failed to notice the star responsible for SN2019ehk, as the supernova event has been named. However, Hubble did offer valuable information about the site before the explosion took place.
It is thought that the star is a white dwarf of a low-mass one. In the absence of an explosion, it would appear that nothing was there.