Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2018 Feb 21;554(7693):497-499.
doi: 10.1038/nature25151.

A Surge of Light at the Birth of a Supernova


A Surge of Light at the Birth of a Supernova

M C Bersten et al. Nature. .


It is difficult to establish the properties of massive stars that explode as supernovae. The electromagnetic emission during the first minutes to hours after the emergence of the shock from the stellar surface conveys important information about the final evolution and structure of the exploding star. However, the unpredictable nature of supernova events hinders the detection of this brief initial phase. Here we report the serendipitous discovery of a newly born, normal type IIb supernova (SN 2016gkg), which reveals a rapid brightening at optical wavelengths of about 40 magnitudes per day. The very frequent sampling of the observations allowed us to study in detail the outermost structure of the progenitor of the supernova and the physics of the emergence of the shock. We develop hydrodynamical models of the explosion that naturally account for the complete evolution of the supernova over distinct phases regulated by different physical processes. This result suggests that it is appropriate to decouple the treatment of the shock propagation from the unknown mechanism that triggers the explosion.

Similar articles

  • Supernova SN 2011fe from an exploding carbon-oxygen white dwarf star.
    Nugent PE, Sullivan M, Cenko SB, Thomas RC, Kasen D, Howell DA, Bersier D, Bloom JS, Kulkarni SR, Kandrashoff MT, Filippenko AV, Silverman JM, Marcy GW, Howard AW, Isaacson HT, Maguire K, Suzuki N, Tarlton JE, Pan YC, Bildsten L, Fulton BJ, Parrent JT, Sand D, Podsiadlowski P, Bianco FB, Dilday B, Graham ML, Lyman J, James P, Kasliwal MM, Law NM, Quimby RM, Hook IM, Walker ES, Mazzali P, Pian E, Ofek EO, Gal-Yam A, Poznanski D. Nugent PE, et al. Nature. 2011 Dec 14;480(7377):344-7. doi: 10.1038/nature10644. Nature. 2011. PMID: 22170680
  • An extremely luminous X-ray outburst at the birth of a supernova.
    Soderberg AM, Berger E, Page KL, Schady P, Parrent J, Pooley D, Wang XY, Ofek EO, Cucchiara A, Rau A, Waxman E, Simon JD, Bock DC, Milne PA, Page MJ, Barentine JC, Barthelmy SD, Beardmore AP, Bietenholz MF, Brown P, Burrows A, Burrows DN, Bryngelson G, Cenko SB, Chandra P, Cummings JR, Fox DB, Gal-Yam A, Gehrels N, Immler S, Kasliwal M, Kong AK, Krimm HA, Kulkarni SR, Maccarone TJ, Mészáros P, Nakar E, O'Brien PT, Overzier RA, de Pasquale M, Racusin J, Rea N, York DG. Soderberg AM, et al. Nature. 2008 May 22;453(7194):469-74. doi: 10.1038/nature06997. Nature. 2008. PMID: 18497815
  • A massive hypergiant star as the progenitor of the supernova SN 2005gl.
    Gal-Yam A, Leonard DC. Gal-Yam A, et al. Nature. 2009 Apr 16;458(7240):865-7. doi: 10.1038/nature07934. Epub 2009 Mar 22. Nature. 2009. PMID: 19305392
  • Predicting the nature of supernova progenitors.
    Groh JH. Groh JH. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2017 Oct 28;375(2105):20170219. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2017.0219. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2017. PMID: 28923996 Free PMC article. Review.
  • The direct identification of core-collapse supernova progenitors.
    Van Dyk SD. Van Dyk SD. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2017 Oct 28;375(2105):20160277. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2016.0277. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2017. PMID: 28923994 Free PMC article. Review.
See all similar articles


    1. Nature. 2006 Aug 31;442(7106):1008-10 - PubMed
    1. Nature. 2008 May 22;453(7194):469-74 - PubMed
    1. Science. 2008 Aug 29;321(5893):1185-8 - PubMed
    1. Nature. 2014 May 22;509(7501):471-4 - PubMed

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources