'Standard candle' (or type Ia) supernova explosions are some of the most energetic events in the Universe, happening when a dense white dwarf star subsumes another star.
The researchers were also able to show that Hypatia didn't match what would be expected if it came from a type II supernova – it has too much iron relative to silicon and calcium – and that leaves the intriguing possibility that this is a leftover from a type Ia supernova, and the first to be found on this planet.
"If this hypothesis is correct, the Hypatia stone would be the first tangible evidence on Earth of a supernova type Ia explosion," says Kramers.
Of the 15 elements analyzed in the stone, several matched what would be expected if the object had come from a dense white dwarf star explosion.
"Since a white dwarf star is formed from a dying red giant, Hypatia could have inherited these element proportions for the six elements from a red giant star," says Kramers