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Supernova in a Nearby Galaxy
updated: Jan 25, 2014, 11:00 AM
By Chuck McPartlin
A supernova was recently discovered in a nearby galaxy, only about 12 million light years away.
The galaxy is known as M82, or Messier 82, and is visible in binoculars as a small fuzz patch
in the ears of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, which contains the Big Dipper. The exploding star
is expected to reach binocular brightness in early February.
Since I was out for an asteroid occultation, I thought I'd take a shot of it. Here are
before and after images of the galaxy, from March 16, 2013 and January 22, 2014. You
can always recognize a supernova, because it has an arrow pointing at it.
This exploding star has been identified as a Type 1a supernova, where a white dwarf
star siphons material off a neighbor, or merges with another white dwarf, which
tips it over the mass limit of stability and destroys it in a thermonuclear detonation.
There's a good chance that the iron in your car and the hemoglobin of your blood came
from just such an explosion.
Finder charts and more information can be found at Sky
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