‘Significant and unexpected’: Dying star spits out a sun’s worth of mass just before going supernova

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A massive star that exploded in the Pinwheel Galaxy in May appears to have unexpectedly lost approximately one sun’s worth of ejected mass during the final years of its life before going supernova, new observations have shown. This discovery reveals more about the enigmatic end days of massive stars.

On the night of May 19, Japanese amateur astronomer Kōichi Itagaki was conducting his regular supernova sweep using telescopes based in three remote observatories dotted around the country. They were located, for instance, in  Yamagata, Okayama and on the island of Shikoku.

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