Due to gravity, scientists have observed the same supernova three times already. A new study shows that the next meeting is expected in 16 years.
The strong gravity that emanates from a cluster of galaxies causes space to bend so much that light from them bends and reaches the Earth in several directions. In science, this effect is also known as gravitational lensing. It is helping scientists study exoplanets and has now allowed Copenhagen University astronomers to observe the same SN-Requiem supernova at three different locations in the sky.
The scientists obtained pictures of the supernova using the Hubble telescope. SN-Requiem exploded about 10 billion years ago, long before the sun formed. “A flash of light from this explosion has just reached us,” explains Associate Professor Gabriel Brammer, who led the study.
Danish scientists also predicted that in 16 years – by 2037 – a fourth image of the same explosion will appear in the sky. In their work, they studied how galaxies are distributed in clusters and how images of different objects are distorted by curved space. This helped them calculate how much light from objects “lagged”. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.