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Supernova 'Shock Breakout' Seen From Red Giant - A First

from National Geographic News

The ultraviolet flash that signals the explosion of a red supergiant star has been detected by astronomers for the first time.

"We have witnessed the violent death of a massive star in a galaxy almost a billion light-years away in unprecedented detail," said study team member Kevin Schawinski, an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

The discovery comes just weeks after an independent team reported the first sighting of x-ray light from a star just as it was beginning to explode. Seeing such "first light" from supernovae could help astronomers better understand what's happening inside massive stars in their final moments.

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