Astronomers have found a star that may have formed after a new and unique type of phenomenon named a magnetorotational hypernova, an explosion with 10 times the energy of a supernova, and could be one of the most energetic events in the cosmos. The star formed has a quite different composition than the other stars found in the universe. The properties that make it weird or unique are – a very high level of zinc, uranium, europium, and somewhat gold. This made it a separate and unique topic to study.
The first generation of stars consisted primarily of hydrogen and helium. In this heavier elements were generated after living their lives, undergoing supernova, and collapsing into a neutron. As these neutron stars collide and merge they generate even heavier elements and release them into the cosmos.
The new category leads to the second generation beginning with a star like SMSS J200322.54-114203.3. It lies at the halo of the Milky Way at about 7500 light-years. However, neutron star mergers are indeed the source of heavy elements in our galaxy. But in this case, only the fusion of neutrons can’t lead to the heavy elements.
So, this generation provides the initial proof of an alternate source of heavy elements, including uranium and perhaps gold.
In the research published in Nature, experts said that the neutron star merges are not responsible for heavy elements in J2003-1142. But it happens because of the collapsing and explosion of a star in rapid rotation with a powerful magnetic field and mass about 25 times that of the sun – an explosion that astronomers call “magnetorotational hypernova”.
In 2016, SMSS J2003-1142 was first observed in Australia. After that, it was again observed in 2019 through the European Southern Observatory in Chile. This enabled experts to study the composition of the star. It is observed to be chemically primitive having iron content about 3000 times less than that of the Sun – which means it is a very rare, extremely metal-poor star. So, as per the elements observed by the experts in this star signifies that it is probably generated by a single mother star, just after Big Bang.
However, neutron merges are when two neutron stars in the binary system merge into an energy event called a Kilonova.
Researcher Dr. Simon Murphy also confirmed that the chemical fingerprints of this star show that it was born long ago in the environment. And is formed of a very massive, highly-magnetized, and fast rotating star.
Murphy also said that this explosion called magnetorotational hypernova is more powerful than a supernova. He stresses that for the first time astronomers have seen the chemical fingerprint of an explosion of a hypernova and hopes this discovery will spark new theoretical research to understand this type of powerful explosion.