So much of the cosmos is unknown. Discoveries are made only to be changed with further discoveries. Some people still can’t get over Pluto not being a proper planet anymore. In this example, a supernova is perplexing scientists with its “larger than life” expectancy.
When supermassive stars die, they go out in explosive flourishes called supernovas. These explosions are so bright, they can flash as much as an entire galaxy. They tend to reach optimum brightness before fading out after about 3-4 months as the energy of its shock wave decreases. The iPTF14hls supernova took a little longer to fade out. Two years longer, in fact. It also flickered between bright and dim during this period. The Las Cumbres Observatory in California tracked the phenomenon and couldn’t believe their eyes.
“I’m not sure, and I don’t think anyone else is sure, just what the hell is happening and yet it happened, and so it begs explanation.”
— UC astrophysicist Stanford Woosle, in an interview with Space.com.
iPTF14hls should be dead now. But it’s still erupting. It also had the appearance of a “younger” supernova after 100 days (when it’s supposed to have faded out completely). And after two years, its spectrum had the look of a 60 days old spectrum. Could this be the answer to slowing the aging process? Doubtful. But it’s leaving some of the world’s top astrophysicists scratching their heads.
You can read more about the age-defying supernova and the theory behind it at Scientific American.