UMass Dartmouth Physics professor on international team that discovered new effects of supernova

The group observed light acting in ways that challenge current understandings of the universe

Supernovas in space

Associate Professor Robert Fisher (Physics) was part of an international team that recently published a research article in Nature that discovered how light reacts after a unique type of supernova. The team, consisting of researchers from Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Birmingham, University of Edinburgh, University of New South Wales, Trinity College Dublin, and the American Museum of Natural History and Space Telescope Science Institute found that light does not simply disappear after the cosmic explosion of stars.

"Since antiquity, humans have wondered about our place in the universe. Astronomers are now able to plumb the enormous expanses of the cosmos using exploding stars,” said Fisher.

The research began after team members at Harvard noticed strange behaviors by light while studying supernovae in 2015. They then brought in experts from across the world to investigate. Before Fisher and his team’s discovery, the prevailing scientific thought was that after a star exploded, its light went forth and quickly dissipated.

“This new research reveals that these exploding stars do not simply fade away into the night, but surprisingly shine steadily for nearly a full year in the infrared. These results challenge our understanding of how these exploding stars behave and may ultimately help us to better understand their uses as cosmic beacons," remarked Fisher.

Read more at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics.

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