If they can determine if there are other types to be identified, it could shed light on how normal supernovae work. The discovery is published in The Astrophysical Journal .
One of the best known types of supernova is a Beta Bursts-type which is triggered by a massive explosive star with gamma rays and high UV’s. It can only occur when there is a star that is so massive and dense with superheated hydrogen gas it collapses into a single black hole. Since the gas is already in a state that can exist at these temperatures it doesn’t produce light. So a Beta Bursts is simply an exploding star exploding with a large amount of light and energy. Some Beta Bursts don’t collapse to form a black hole at all. One example is a Beta Bursts that occurred 2 billion years ago. The bright white dot at the bottom is the supernova remnant of that explosion. The image below is a color composite of the original Beta Bursts and now has colors from X-ray to optical to ultraviolet to visible light to infrared. There are around 50 Gamma Bursts-type events a year in space. Although we are only a few hundred light years away from Alpha Centauri, a single Beta Bursts has the potential of destroying the planet. It is the destruction of that star that produces Beta Bursts. That star is so dense it would create a black hole about 6,300 times the mass of our Sun:
Beta Bursts-Type Explosions
You can see how massive the star is in the image below.. That star is the Alpha Centauri system. All normal supernovae, Beta’s, X’s, Y’s, and Z’s are produced by massive stars such as our Sun. At the top of the image on the right is the supernova remnant of that supernova. That black hole would make the object the size of the Earth and a few times larger than our Sun. We’ve observed beta’s in the process before - when a star blows through its second or third generation of massive stars, at the top of the picture to the left you can see a bright X with a thin disk surrounded by two brighter X’s pointing in the same direction. This is the ejection of a companion star from another source of supernova material (aka ‘cubic’ supernovae ).
A normal supernova has gamma ray and ultraviolet light, the red part of the image. Beta Bursts create visible light, the yellow and green parts of the image. Beta Bursts often have flashes of X rays and light seen in the X-ray wavelength range. The X-ray emission from Beta Bursts is often much more efficient than the X-ray emission from supernova remnants since they take place so quick. There is a fairly rare type of supernova known as a Type X-Blast, or Type III. It will create X-ray gamma rays and UV radiation, but not the more common gamma ray and optical emission. The blue region of the image in a yellow background is a white dwarf like star that will be burnt out. The red part of the image is X-rays and UV emitted light from the explosion. Beta Bursts are actually the more common type of supernova producing X-rays, but X-rays as the image above shows are also the more prevalent. There may be a few billion possible types of supernova that trigger a type X-Blast - the only thing that stops us from picking one of them is that some of these will lead to a more compact supernova. The Beta Bursts from an X-Blast will still blast out high energy gamma rays and X rays by escaping the host star. The type of X-Blast typically starts out with a mass around 100 times that of our Sun, and it stays about that weight. This means it is still about 11 percent as dense as normal supernovae. If it’s less dense it’s going to be more energy and less light. So it explodes, but only with a very small amount of high energy light. This means the blast emits a large amount of light and some of it escapes along with the X-ray and UV radiation. We don’t know the specifics of which type of X-Blast will trigger each type of supernova. A better clue might come around 20 billion years from now when the Universe is only about 13 billion years old, although that’s highly unlikely.