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News Release Archive:

News Release 461 of 948

January 27, 2004 09:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2004-43

Massive Old Star Reveals Secrets on Deathbed

The full news release story:

Massive Old Star Reveals Secrets on DeathbedView this image

Like a doctor trying to understand an elderly patient's sudden demise, astronomers have obtained the most detailed observations ever of an old, but otherwise normal massive star just before and after its life ended in a spectacular supernova explosion.

Imaged by the Gemini Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) less than a year prior to the gigantic explosion, the star is located in the nearby galaxy M74 in the constellation of Pisces. These observations allowed a team of European astronomers led by Dr. Stephen Smartt of the University of Cambridge, England to verify theoretical models showing how a star like this can meet such a violent fate.