Nearest supernova in 27 years explodes in M82 galaxy

Jan 23, 2014 by Bob Yirka report
Credit: UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright

(Phys.org) —A supernova has been spotted in the constellation Ursa Major (between the Big and Little Dipper in the night sky) in the M82 galaxy (affectionately known as the cigar galaxy) by a team of students at University College London. The discovery was posted on the Central Bureau's Transient Object Confirmation Page which led to follow-up observations by other teams around the world. It's real, and not only is it bright enough for amateur astronomer's to view, but it's the closet known supernova explosion since 1987.

Initial study has revealed the supernova to be classified as 1a, the type described by astronomers as "" because their brightness is uniform enough to allow for using them to measure distances across the universe. Sometimes they start out as a white dwarf, pulling in material from around them until they reach a critical mass and explode. Other times they are the result of two such stars (binaries) colliding.

What's perhaps most exciting about this newest observation is that it's so close (just 11.4 million light years from us) that it's likely that images of the star that exploded have been previously recorded by different telescopes around the globe which means scientists might be able to watch the process that led to the supernova occurring, something that has never been seen before. If that turns out to be the case, other space researchers note, the stage could be set for allowing for reducing uncertainties in measuring dark energy—standard candle observations are the means by which such theories first came to exist after all. Also, while the explosion has undoubtedly unleashed a torrent of neutrinos, its unlikely monitors here on Earth will notice much of an uptic in activity due to distance and them getting lost in other sources.

Because of the timing of the discovery, it appears that there is more to come—it's going to get brighter over the next few days before growing dimmer and dimmer, eventually fading to black. That means that anyone wishing to observe a as its happening can do so—likely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Binoculars should be enough, though a telescope would be much better. Universe Today has published a map to help those looking find it.

Explore further: Will the sun explode?

More information: www.astronomerstelegram.org/?read=5786
remanzacco.blogspot.nl/2014/01… upernova-in-m82.html

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verkle
5 / 5 (5) Jan 23, 2014
Really cool! Wish I had a working telescope to follow it. But I'll definitely follow it online.
yyz
5 / 5 (5) Jan 23, 2014
"...it's the closet known supernova explosion since 1987"

Actually there have been a couple of supernovae found in M82 since 1987. SN2004am, which appeared very close to the position of the current SN, was a Type II-P SN that was later found to be associated with a star cluster in M82:

http://astro.berk...4am.html

http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.1889

SN2008iz was a radio supernova (visible only at radio wavelengths) that appeared near the center of the galaxy. Heavy dust absorption by M82 dimmed this supernova by over 10 magnitudes in the optical:

http://www3.mpifr...82.shtml

@verkle, I've seen some estimates that put peak magnitude at ~8-8.5. This should be within easy reach of even 7x35 binos(no telescope needed). See the Universe Today link in the article for finder charts.

JIMBO
5 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2014
WHY is their zero coverage of neutrino detection ?? Its critical to repeat the same observation that anti-neutrinos arrive nearly simultaneously w/neutrinos, as theydid in SN1987A.
yyz
5 / 5 (6) Jan 23, 2014
"WHY is their zero coverage of neutrino detection ??"

This particular supernova is a Type Ia, which do not produce the prodigious amounts of neutrinos as seen in core-collapse Type II events(e.g. SN1987A). This fact combined with the distance of M82 would make neutrinos from SN2014J (as it is now designated) impossible to cull from the background noise, even with Ice Cube. In fact, one of the Ice Cube researchers has commented that it would by hard to detect neutrinos from a Type Ia SN in our own galaxy: https://twitter.com/uw_icecube
jyro
not rated yet Jan 23, 2014
the deathstar blew up!