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This star cheated death, exploding again and again

The weirdest supernova ever has lasted more than three years, and may be the third outburst from the same star

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1:00pm, November 8, 2017
illustration of a supernova

GHOST IN THE SHELL  What looked like an ordinary supernova, shown in this artist’s illustration, might be the result of a single star exploding at least three times, blowing off expanding shells of gas each time.

A shocking supernova refuses to die.

This exploding star, named iPTF14hls, has erupted continuously for the last three years, and it may have had two other outbursts in the past, astronomers report in the Nov. 9 Nature. Such a tireless supernova could be the first example of a proposed explosion that involves burning antimatter in a stellar core — or it could be something new altogether.

“A supernova is supposed to be a one-time thing — the star explodes, it’s dead, it’s done, it can’t explode again,” says astrophysicist Iair Arcavi of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s the weirdest supernova we’ve ever seen … It’s like the star that keeps on dying.”

When iPTF14hls was discovered in September 2014 by the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory, which scans the sky regularly with a telescope at the

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