Thanks to improved sky surveys, astronomers are churning out supernova discoveries at a remarkable rate. By catching exploding stars in a much larger volume of space, astronomers are seeing rare types of supernovae that were previously unknown to science, including explosions that are much more luminous than the typical supernovae that result from the explosions of massive stars. Some of these types of explosions were actually predicted by theorists, while others remain mysterious.
Astronomer Robert Quimby of the California Institute of Technology is one of the leaders in supernova research and, in particular, the effort to understand these particularly energetic explosions.
Click here to listen to a 17-minute conversation between Robert Quimby and S&T editor in chief Robert Naeye.