Too bright and too fast for a normal supernova
After further observation, astronomers found the explosion could be detected on all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, from X-rays to radio waves, and with unusually bright readings.
The explosion was also unusually fast — with high-energy particles firing outwards at around 20,000 kilometres per second — and very hot, with a surface temperature of up to 9,000 degrees Celsius. Usually it takes several weeks for a supernova to reach its strongest brightness but “The Cow” only took a few days.
Scientists believe it may be a type 1c supernova in which the giant star’s nucleus collapses and it loses its outer shell of hydrogen and helium.
“We’re not sure what it is yet, but the normal driving mechanism for a supernova is the radioactive decay of nickel — and this event was too bright and too fast,” Kate Maguire, an astronomer from Queen’s University Belfast, told New Scientist.
Astronomers will be carrying out further measurements and analyses to find out exactly what the explosion was.