Astronomers just spotted a brand-new supernova mere hours after it exploded, thanks to a robotic telescope and some smart computer algorithms. Now they’re scrambling to use as many telescopes as possible, on Earth and in space, to observe the star’s death throes.
The cosmic fireworks above capture both stellar birth and stellar death in one sweeping view. With eyes pointed at nebula NGC 3582, part of a larger star factory here in the Milky Way, the Wide Field Imager at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile managed to capture a nebula shaped by supernova glowing with the intense light of baby stars.
Here’s a good argument for letting your kids stay up late: A 10-year-old Canadian girl discovered a supernova over the weekend, the youngest person ever to do so.
Kathryn Aurora Gray of Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, made the discovery under the supervision of two other amateur astronomers, according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
Those of you who thought 3-D had jumped the shark, check this out. Using a new instrument at the Very Large Telescope, astronomers have been able to capture a three-dimensional view of the distribution of the innermost material expelled by a supernova, the European Southern Observatory said today.
When speaking of the cosmos, we like to attach really amazing modifiers to the phenomena we find there, prefixes like "super-" and "extra-" or adjectives like "massive" and "giant." So, having used up most of the good ones, we're not really sure how to describe the gargantuan (oh, that's a good one) star that European researchers just discovered with the ESO's Very Large Telescope; at 265 times the mass of our own sun, it is the largest star ever discovered, by more than 100 solar masses. That is to say: it's really, really big.
Massive stars live for a very long time, so when their lives finally do come to an end they like to go out with a bang -- a bang that can become brighter than the whole galaxy for a time. Astronomers have studied and modeled these supernovae for decades, but for the first time researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics have created a 3-D computer sim of a star undergoing core collapse over a timescale of hours after the initial explosion.