Hubble monitors supernova in nearby galaxy M82

February 26, 2014
Hubble monitors supernova in nearby galaxy M82
This is a Hubble Space Telescope composite image of a supernova explosion designated SN 2014J in the galaxy M82. The Jan. 31 image, shown here as an inset, was taken in visible light with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. This image was superimposed into a photo mosaic of the entire galaxy taken in 2006 taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Goobar (Stockholm University), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

This is a Hubble Space Telescope composite image of a supernova explosion designated SN 2014J in the galaxy M82. At a distance of approximately 11.5 million light-years from Earth it is the closest supernova of its type discovered in the past few decades. The explosion is categorized as a Type Ia supernova, which is theorized to be triggered in binary systems consisting of a white dwarf and another star—which could be a second white dwarf, a star like our sun, or a giant star.

Astronomers using a ground-based telescope discovered the explosion on January 21, 2014. This Hubble photograph was taken on January 31, as the supernova approached its peak brightness. The Hubble data are expected to help astronomers refine distance measurements to Type Ia supernovae. In addition, the observations could yield insights into what kind of stars were involved in the explosion. Hubble's ultraviolet-light sensitivity will allow astronomers to probe the environment around the site of the and in the interstellar medium of the host galaxy.

Because of their consistent peak brightness, Type Ia supernovae are among the best tools to measure distances in the universe. They were fundamental to the 1998 discovery of the mysterious acceleration of the expanding universe. A hypothesized repulsive force, called dark energy, is thought to cause the acceleration.

The M82 galaxy before (top) and after (bottom) its new supernova on Jan. 22. Credit: UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright

The January 31 image, shown here as an inset, was taken in visible light with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. This image was superimposed into a photo mosaic of the entire galaxy taken in 2006 taken with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Among the other major NASA space-based observatories used in the M82 viewing campaign are Spitzer Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer, and the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

Explore further: Space image: New supernova remnant lights up

Related Stories

Space image: New supernova remnant lights up

September 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers are witnessing the unprecedented transition of a supernova to a supernova remnant, where light from an exploding star in a neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic ...

Hubble catches stellar explosions in NGC 6984

November 8, 2013

Supernovae are intensely bright objects. They are formed when a star reaches the end of its life with a dramatic explosion, expelling most of its material out into space.

Nearest supernova in 27 years explodes in M82 galaxy

January 23, 2014

(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 ...

NASA spacecraft take aim at nearby supernova

January 24, 2014

(Phys.org) —An exceptionally close stellar explosion discovered on Jan. 21 has become the focus of observatories around and above the globe, including several NASA spacecraft. The blast, designated SN 2014J, occurred in ...

Image: Starbursting in the galaxy M82

February 3, 2014

(Phys.org) —Messier 82 (M82), the galaxy in which the nearest supernova in decades recently exploded, also is the closest galaxy that is undergoing a rapid burst of star formation, known as a starburst. About 12 million ...

Recommended for you

Ceres image: The lonely mountain

August 25, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers).

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Dawn spacecraft sends sharper scenes from Ceres

August 25, 2015

The closest-yet views of Ceres, delivered by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, show the small world's features in unprecedented detail, including Ceres' tall, conical mountain; crater formation features and narrow, braided fractures.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.