A new observatory called the Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO) is poised to revolutionize our ability to study supernovae by detecting their early warning signals. Unlike other types of supernovae, core-collapse supernovae emit a burst of neutrinos before the star illuminates as a supernova. JUNO aims to recognize these neutrino events in near-real time, allowing other observatories to focus their attention on the specific region of the sky where a supernova is occurring.

Neutrinos are particles that interact weakly with matter and can travel through space unhindered. Currently under construction, JUNO aims to detect these neutrino events fast enough to provide timely information to astronomers. According to a recent study, the authors estimate that JUNO would be capable of detecting the initial neutrinos from the core-collapse of a 30 solar mass star located over one million light years away. Additionally, JUNO could also detect the fainter burst of neutrinos that occurs in the pre-supernova stage of a 30 solar mass star located up to 3,000 light years away.

The goal of JUNO is to allow astronomers to observe supernovae as they happen and gather valuable data on these explosive events. While there may be occasional false alarms, the benefits of being able to detect and study these events outweigh the minor inconvenience of false detections.

JUNO is expected to be operational by the end of this year, bringing us closer to a comprehensive understanding of supernovae and their early warning signals.

Source: Universe Today – “A new observatory could spot core-collapse supernovae before they explode” – DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2309.07109