Scientists capture strange FELT supernova using Kepler

The Kepler detected a strange kind of supernova called a Fast Evolving Luminous Transient (FELT).
By Tyler MacDonald | Apr 02, 2018
Scientists are using NASA's Kepler space telescope to study supernovae, according to Ars Technica. Although it was initially designed to study exoplanets, scientists are now using its precision and ability to continuously examine explosions left behind by dying stars.

After Kepler's launch in 2009, astronomers realized that it could be used to unlock the mysteries of objects outside of exoplanets, including active galactic nuclei and supernovae.

"Kepleropened up a new way of looking at the sky," saidKeplerproject scientist Jessie Dotson of NASA'sAmes Research Centerin Silicon Valley, California. "It was designed to do one thing really well, which was to find planets around other stars. In order to do that, it had to deliver high-precision, continuous data, which has been valuable for other areas of astronomy."

Back in 2012, astronomer Ed Shayna observed a sudden 10 percent brightening in the light coming from a galaxy. Along with his partner Robert Olling, Shayna confirmed that it originated from a supernova and wasn't just a computer error.

They went on to create an international collaboration project called Kepler Extra-Galactic Survey (KEGS), which has helped them find more than 20 supernovae to date.

The findings also revealed the presence poorly understood types of supernovae called Fast Evolving Luminous Transients, also known as FELT.

Scientists recently caught an event called KSN 2015K, which they now know is a FELT thanks to Kepler. While scientists have only begun detecting FELTs in recent years, Kepler data will likely accelerate research in this area given that is can scan specific sections of the sky every half hour, 24 hours a day.

Kepler will soon run out of fuel, but scientists are hopeful that its successor, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), will launch this spring.


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