Death star: In cosmic first, scientists observe red supergiant just before it explodes

It’s much easier for scientists to see the messy aftermath of stellar explosions than to watch the prelude to the drama.

But finally, astronomers managed to observe a red giant star just as it “went supernova,” as exploding stars are called. Using a telescope in Hawaii, a team of scientists gathered observations of a red supergiant star in summer 2020. Lo and behold, in September, that very same star died in a supernova dubbed (SN) 2020tlf — an explosion that team members called “one of the most intriguing” supernovas of its type.