An “extraordinary supernovae” candidate called SN 2012dn was spotted by a team of scientists through the Optical and Infrared Synergetic Telescopes for Education and Research (OISTER) in Japan. Its discovery could improve current measurements of the Dark Energy and the universe’s expansion rate.

The recently discovered extraordinary supernova exploded while surrounded by a dense gas, which escaped during the transfer of gas from a star to the surface of a white dwarf. Apparently, this proves that the accretion theory about supernovae’s origin could be true after all.

There are two theories that attempt to explain where these supernovae come from: the accretion and merger scenarios. The accretion scenario explains that supernovae are the result of one white dwarf and one normal star while the merger theory suggests that the exploding stars are formed by two white dwarfs.

extraordinary supernovae

Image around SN 2012dn obtained by the Kanata Telescope at Higashi-Hiroshima Observatory. Credit:Higashi-Hiroshima Observatory

Assessing SN 2012dn took 150 days after the supernova was spotted. Unlike the average Type Ia (“One-A”) supernovae, extraordinary supernovae are brighter.

This poses a problem for scientists who depend on Type Ia’s consistency from a stable state to explosive state when it comes to accurately measuring the expansion of the universe.  Scientists believe that extraordinary supernovae are so bright that these may have been contaminating their samples all along, which makes previous estimations of the universe’s expansion rate incorrect.

Hence, the researchers agree that determining where these supernovae and extraordinary supernovae come from must be investigated further to prevent extraordinary supernovae from contaminating samples for cosmological studies. These research aims to detail how the universe is quickly expanding and to provide a clearer explanation about Dark Energy, an energy that remains mysterious but is believed to dictate the end of the universe.

The research team plans to conduct another study to confirm whether Type Ia supernovae also come from the accretion scenario just like extraordinary supernovae. The findings are available online in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.