back to article Astronomers find bizarre 'zombie supernova' that just won't die

Astrophysicists have discovered one of the weirdest stars yet in the universe: one that refuses to die, exploding as a supernova multiple times over fifty years. Normally when large stars reach the end of their lives they terminally explode as a supernova with a burst of bright light and matter and that is that. But the …

  1. jonfr

    Antimatter supernova

    If this is a antimatter star then this might be a light show in few years time.

    Last antimatter supernova that exploded was at distance of 7 billion light years.

    This also might be a Pair-instability supernova.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Antimatter supernova

      Pulsational pair instability was my first thought from a reading of the article, until I got to its mass. They're definitely right about the need to revisit that theory if it turns out to be the case, since this one is much smaller than the agreed lower mass limit for that type of supernova.

      I particularly like the fact that pair instability supernovae leave no remnant, generating enough energy to completely disrupt the star. Returning all of a star's material to the universe in that way feels less wasteful than leaving behind a degenerate object like a neutron star or black hole.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    More than one sun ?

    If there have been multiple explosions then maybe each explosion has been a separate sun. Close enough to the original to be detonated by it.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: More than one sun ?

      I think it would be an incredible coincidence for a stable multi-star system to form in the first place, and then after potentially hundreds of millions of years, for them to all go off within a few decades.

      I don't know how close an ageing star would have to be to a supernova to be "set off" by the shockwave, or if that's even possible, but it also seems pretty implausible...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More than one sun ?

        A small percentage of binary star pairs are closely matched in size (extra large) and also close physically. If it is possible to cook off a supernova, we'll eventually be seeing a distinctive 'double supernova' somewhere in the universe. Could be a long wait tho...

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    A type II Khardashev civilisation?

    That perhaps got something a little wrong?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: A type II Khardashev civilisation?

      "Er, Dezhk!k!k, I'm sorry but I think I forgot to carry the one."

      "I wouldn't worry about it. What difference could it possi..."


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beta testing?

    Death Star planet killer v0.1

  5. David Roberts

    We may not see it in our lifetime

    But some time in the not too distant future observers will see the shadows cast by the first wave of light sails.

    By then, of course, it will probably be too late to do anything.

  6. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    Morse code

    Has anyone noted the pulses as dots and dashes? "They" are trying to communicate with us.

    I, for one, welcome our supernovae-controlling overlords.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Morse code

      That's a pretty low bit rate, even for stellar destroying level civilizations :P

  7. John G Imrie


    So it's a Zombie Supernova in the sky.

    with apologies to Oasis.

    1. Craigie

      Re: Song?

      There's never any reason to apologise to Oasis.

      1. IceC0ld Silver badge

        Re: Song?

        There's never any reason to apologise to Oasis.

        Yea, just don't look back ya wanker ...................

  8. Tom 7 Silver badge

    One of the side effects of science

    or rather the use of 'ideal' situations that we can understand more easily than practical solutions.

    I've always worried about the use of 1as for marking distance - the caveat on 1as being a standard luminosity is that they dont rotate too fast - and the normal method of creation is accretion from a nearby star which will inevitably lead to incredibly high spins - possibly in the region where the pressure in the dwarf is reduced allowing far more matter to be accreted before detonation.

    I should add that the recent gravity wave detection supports the use of 1as from mergers.

    But assuming spheres is always going to cause problems in the busy realms of space.

  9. BoldMan

    The next Super-Hyper Lensman weapon?

    Kimball Kinnison has found how to bring stars from another dimension with inert intrinsic velocities faster than the speed of light and is now inerting them to crash into the Star system that the Eddorians escaped to - its the Ultimate Ultimate Ultimate Super-weapon!

  10. Dr Dan Holdsworth

    Could this be a black hole?

    Black holes, when they are actively absorbing matter, emit quite a bit as jets from each pole due to magnetic forces. Might this not be a black hole jet that just so happens to be aimed directly at us at that time?

    1. ArrZarr

      Re: Could this be a black hole?

      IIRC, quasars give off different spectrographic signatures in the light they produce than stars.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could this be a black hole?

      also most of the emissions from Black Hole gobbling is in the X-Ray range IIRC?

  11. Mr F&*king Grumpy

    " ...repeated explosions that may even repeat over decades before one final colossal outburst" - sounds just like my career path.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "the sex was galactic"

  12. Stevie Silver badge


    I imagine these scientists have tried the obvious?

    Matching the pulsations to the rhythms or Black Sabbath's Iron Man, Hawkwind's Silver Machine and Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water?

    1. BoldMan

      Re: Bah!

      But do they go sideways through time?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    White hole in the middle is powering endless starburps

    It's the only logical explanation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: White hole in the middle is powering endless starburps

      That is one of the possibilities actually. But it does depend on specific details on how long this object stays around, how far it goes with its fading, emission frequencies etc. and whether the old evidence El Reg speaks of is actually the same object or just in that general area - the details seems a bit sketchy so far.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: White hole in the middle is powering endless starburps

        ...could also be two or more white dwarf stars which have formed in the first and successive collapses, colliding.

  14. webwhackone

    Time is relative

    If we are fortunately positioned to be looking at this through a wormhole then it has possibly only started going supernova on that side and we are witnessing a buffered light show stream on this side, with fluctuations in the 'tunnel' causing seemingly varying light intensities. Two astronomical observations for the price of one!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Large number of gas giants

    It's solar system could be composed of a large number of gas giants which are slowly being dragged into the supernova remnants along with collapsing material, causing it to explode again and again.

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