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Supernova's death throes revealed

In archival images, astronomers see activity in weeks before giant star’s explosion

5:07pm, February 6, 2013

Just before a giant star blew up in a spectacular supernova explosion, it gave hints to its imminent demise. The pre-explosion activity of this star, detailed online February 6 in Nature, could enable astronomers to predict a star’s coming supernova and then watch it in real time.

“It’s a very fascinating study,” says Jon Mauerhan, an astronomer at the University of Arizona who was not involved in the research. Astronomers have only rarely witnessed the activity of a massive star before its explosion, he adds.

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