Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Tech & Science

AI successfully detects supernovae, outclassing astronomers

To test the BTSbot, the researchers looked to a newly discovered supernova candidate dubbed SN2023tyk.

Astrophysicists measured the light for exploding stars called supernovae to arrive at the most precise limits yet for the universe's composition - Copyright AFP/File Behrouz MEHRI
Astrophysicists measured the light for exploding stars called supernovae to arrive at the most precise limits yet for the universe's composition - Copyright AFP/File Behrouz MEHRI

Astronomers have detected the first supernova to be subsequently confirmed, classified and shared, by using artificial intelligence. A supernova is what happens when a star has reached the end of its life and explodes in a brilliant burst of light. The exercise has led to the conclusion that the new AI tool can remove humans from entire search and discovery process.

Up until now, supernovae have been detected and analysed by a twin-process containing both robots and humans. First, robotic telescopes repeatedly image the same sections of the night sky, searching for new sources that were not present in previous images. Then, when these telescopes detect something new, humans take over.

This has changed with the new BTSbot tool which successfully cuts out the human middleman from the process. The system confirms if a candidate object is a supernova by collecting and assessing its spectrum (the source’s dispersed light, which reveals elements present in the explosion).

Bright Transient Survey Bot (BTSbot) is a machine-learning algorithm, one that was trained with more than 1.4 million historical images from 16,000 astronomical sources. This frees up astronomers to analyse the AI produced observations and instead develop new hypotheses to explain the origin of the cosmic explosions observed.

This includes seeking to understand the life cycles of stars and the origin of elements supernovae create, like carbon, iron and gold.

The AI was developed through an international collaboration led by Northwestern University. The new system automates the entire search for new supernovae across the night sky, successfully bypassing human error.

According to Northwestern’s Adam Miller: “For the first time ever, a series of robots and AI algorithms has observed, then identified, then communicated with another telescope to finally confirm the discovery of a supernova.”

Miller adds: “This represents an important step forward as further refinement of models will allow the robots to isolate specific subtypes of stellar explosions. Ultimately, removing humans from the loop provides more time for the research team to analyse their observations and develop new hypotheses to explain the origin of the cosmic explosions that we observe.”

To test the BTSbot, the researchers looked to a newly discovered supernova candidate dubbed SN2023tyk. The ZTF, a robotic observatory that images the night sky in a search for supernovae, first detected the source on 3rd October,2023. Sifting through ZTF’s data in real time, BTSbot found SN2023tyk on 5th October, 2023.

BTSbot automatically requested the potential supernova’s spectrum from Palomar Observatory, where another robotic telescope (SED Machine) performed in-depth observations to obtain the source’s spectrum. The SED Machine then sent this spectrum to Caltech’s SNIascore to determine the supernova’s type: Either a thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf or the collapse of a massive star’s core.

After determining that the candidate was a Type Ia supernova (a stellar explosion in which a white dwarf in a binary star system fully explodes), the automated system publicly shared the discovery with the astronomical community on 7th October, 2023.

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:

Business

Traders struggled to extend gains on Wall Street, where the Dow chalked up its first record since May.

Tech & Science

Many of the challenges architects, owners, and general contractors face today go well beyond masonry, design, or fenestration. 

Tech & Science

Brampton Brick doesn’t go as far back as 7000 B.C.E, but the company knows clay, stone and brick.

Life

Read the fine print carefully and understand the implications of acquiring credit card debt before signing up, check the legitimacy.