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New images of dying stars captured

world Updated: Jul 09, 2009 14:26 IST
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Astronomers have captured the images of the most distant dying stars or supernovas ever observed, using a new technique that could provide new insights into the formation of the earliest galaxies.

A supernova exploding stars occur when a massive star more than 50 times the mass of the Sun dies in a powerful bright explosion after it ran out of nuclear fuel and could no longer support its own weight.

The new technique used to find it could reveal tens of thousands of other ancient supernovae, tracing out how the universe became seeded over time with heavy elements.

Light from the exploding stars, or supernovae, began its journey to Earth 11 billion years ago, not long after the "Big Bang" that created the cosmos. The next furthest large supernova known is six billion light years away.

Professor Jeff Cooke, lead researcher on the study and an astronomer at the University of California, Irvine, found four supernovae, including the two distant objects, after analysing images from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii.

"Using this method, we should be able to see objects much farther away and therefore much farther back in time, and actually see some of the first stars that ever lived," Cooke told New Scientist.