Astronomers today announced the discovery, perhaps, of the brightest new star known to science – a new one, discovered in the direction of one of the nearest nearby galaxies: the Small Magellanic Cloud.
A new one is called when the old star approaches the end of its life cycle. In a close binary star system consisting of a white dwarf and a sun-like companion star, the material is transferred from the companion star to the white dwarf and gradually accumulates on its surface. When, as the material accumulates, the pressure on the surface of the white dwarf reaches a critical value, a powerful thermonuclear explosion occurs, accompanied by a sharp increase in the brightness of the binary system.
Using telescopes located in South Africa, Australia and South America, as well as the Swift (Swift) orbital observatory, a scientific team led by researchers from the South African Astronomical Observatory discovered that the new SMCN 2016-10a, which was opened on 14 October 2016, is the brightest new ever to be discovered in the Small Magellanic Cloud, and one of the brightest new that has ever been observed in the entire universe.
The small Magellanic Cloud, located at a distance of 200,000 light years from us, is one of the closest galaxies to us; it is a dwarf galaxy, much less massive than our Milky Way galaxy. In our Galaxy, new ones occur quite often, with a frequency of up to 35 new per year, however, SMCN 2016-10a became the first new discovered in the Small Magellanic Cloud, starting in 2012.