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Astronomers have uncovered evidence of explosions triggered by dead stars ramming into live stars, possible proof of a new type of supernova, a new study finds.
Supernovas are gigantic explosions that can occur when stars die. These outbursts can briefly outshine all of the other suns in these stars’ galaxies, making them visible from halfway across the cosmos.
For decades, researchers have known of two main supernova types. Large stars more than 10 times the sun’s mass collapse in their centers when their cores burn all their fuel, causing the outer layers to explode and leaving behind a stellar remnant such as a neutron star or black hole. In contrast, stars less than eight times the sun’s mass burn out over time, leaving behind a dense core known as a white dwarf, and these remnants can pull fuel onto themselves from companion stars until they detonate in a thermonuclear explosion.