As we enter the high season of electoral politics, you're going to hear things about global warming that may seem a bit dubious--that it doesn't exist, that it exists and George W. Bush invented it, that cataclysmic climate change has already occurred and we are all doomed, that climate change is the result of the failed stimulus, etc. But an astrophysicist working on one of the cosmos greatest mysteries has another theory that might sound equally implausible on its face, but actually makes some sense: that we can measure future global warming based on the number of exploding stars we see in the sky.
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.
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.
Stars don't tend to go quietly, and the most massive of them all create a supernova explosion 50 to 100 times brighter than normal. Now astronomers have confirmed the existence of rare but huge stars that contain 200 times the mass of our sun, after spotting one unusually bright cosmic explosion in 2007.