Pune radio telescope helps discover new class of powerful astronomical explosions
The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune, operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (NCRA-TIFR), has helped a team of international scientists discover a new class of powerful astronomical explosions caused by a Fast Blue Optical Transient (FBOT) named CSS161010.
.While supernova- the super-powerful explosion of a star- is the biggest explosion seen by humans- the discovery of the FBOT named CSS161010 in late 2016, and follow-up radio and X-ray observations, revealed that it is more powerful than a normal supernova, NCRA scientist Poonam Chandra said at a press conference here on Tuesday. “What makes these luminous FBOTs unique is they prima facie look like supernova explosions, but flare up and vanish much faster. They’re also extremely hot, hence appear more blue in color than the standard supernovae, the NCRA scientist said.
This FBOT can eject large amount of material into space-- 1 to 10 percent the mass of the Sun-- at speeds close to half the speed of light, thus proving to be a new class of transient,” she said.
“CSS161010 is the second closest FBOT and lies at a distance of around 500 million light years,” said Deanne Coppejans, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University.
Data from the GMRT along with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) at Soccorro, New Mexico and the Chandra X-Ray Telescope deployed on the space shuttle Columbia, was used for the research into this astronomical discovery.
“The GMRT provided the most crucial measurement at low radio frequencies to estimate the speed of the ejected material. This is only the second such highly-luminous transient known and this discovery establishes a new class of transients with extremely powerful central engine,” Chandra said.
She along with A. J. Nayana, represented NCRA-TIFR and worked together with Deanne Coppejans and R. Margutti from Northwestern University; Mari-Ela Chock from W.M. Keck Observatory and several others.