NASA`s Hubble Space Telescope spots possible `Zombie Star`

A possible ``zombie star`` has been spotted by NASA`s Hubble Space Telescope that may have been left behind after an unusually weak supernova explosion, as revealed by scientists.

Last Updated: Aug 07, 2014, 17:05 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: A possible ``zombie star`` has been spotted by NASA`s Hubble Space Telescope that may have been left behind after an unusually weak supernova explosion, as revealed by scientists.

A surviving portion of the dwarf star, a sort of zombie star may have left behind a faint supernova, the researchers believed.

Astronomers identified a blue companion star feeding to a white dwarf, while examining Hubble images taken years before the stellar explosion. The process ignited a nuclear reaction and released a weak supernova blast, Type Iax, which is less common than its brighter cousin, Type Ia.

This may spur the development of improved models for these white dwarf explosions. It will also provide a more complete understanding of the relationship between Type Iax and normal Type Ia supernovae and their corresponding star systems findings.
Dubbed SN 2012Z, the weak supernova resides in the host galaxy NGC 1390 which is 110 million light-years away. It was discovered in the Lick Observatory Supernova Search in January 2012.

Astronomers have been searching for decades for the star systems that produce Type Ia supernova explosions. Type Ia`s are important because they are used to measure vast cosmic distances and the expansion of the universe, as said by Saurabh Jha of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.

He added that they have very few constraints on how any white dwarf explodes and the similarities between Type Iax`s and normal Type Ia`s make understanding Type Iax progenitors important. Especially so because no Type Ia progenitor has been conclusively identified. This discovery shows us one way that you can get a white dwarf explosion.

The study was published in the journal Nature.