Up until recently, these bright star burst which may occur at the end of a star’s life cycle, came in two varieties. Type Ia supernovas take place in binary star systems in which a white dwarf siphons off mass from its binary companion before a nuclear reaction ignites, whilst Type II supernovas occur after a massive supergiant star runs out of fuel and collapses under its own gravity.
Now, astronomers have added a new type of mini-supernova to the list, called a Type Iax supernova. In this instance, the stellar blast, too, takes place in a binary systems containing a white dwarf, but the white dwarf star could actually end up surviving the explosion. Furthermore, the supernova may only shine a hundredth times as bright as its companions accounting for why so few have been discovered so far.
Commenting on the new mini-supernova type discovery, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics lead researcher Ryan Foley, said: “The star will be battered and bruised, but it might live to see another day. Type Iax supernovas aren’t rare, they’re just faint. For more than a thousand years, humans have been observing supernovas. This whole time, this new class has been hiding in the shadows.”