Tokyo: In a finding that may have important implications for the evolution of massive stars, a group of researchers presented a model that provides the first characterisation of the progenitor (parent) of a hydrogen-deficient supernova.
Their model predicts that a bright hot star which is the binary companion to an exploding object, remains after the explosion.
"We decided to check if such a massive star is consistent with the supernova brightness evolution," said Melina Bersten of the Kavli IPMU (Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe) at the University of Tokyo.
To substantiate their theory, the group secured observation time with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to search for such a remaining star.
For years astronomers have searched for the elusive progenitors of hydrogen-deficient stellar explosions without success.
However the appearance of supernova known as "iPTF13bvn" and the subsequent detection of an object at the same location rekindled hope.
One of the challenges in astrophysics is identifying which star produces which supernova.
Two competing mechanisms have been proposed.
One assumes that a strong wind produced by a very massive star blows the outer hydrogen layers while the other suggests that a gravitationally bound binary companion star removes the outer layers.
"We tested several configurations and came up with a family of possible solutions," explained co-author Omar Benvenuto from the Institute of Astrophysics La Plata, Argentina.
The team chose two stars born with 20 and 19 times the mass of the Sun.
The findings appeared in The Astronomical Journal.