Wednesday, 4 September 2013

I have caught a super nova! So chuffed about this got it in my image of M74 here are the details...

July 29, 2013
It looks like Lick Observatory astronomers discovered a new supernova in the nearby galaxy M74 last week.  The star has brightened over the weekend to magnitude 12.6, a challenge to see visually but still an impressive object that will shine for a few weeks with the light of a billion Suns.
The spectral signature suggests a Type II supernova, a star that collapsed then exploded when it ran out of fuel in its core.  According to observations made some time ago with the Hubble Space Telescope, the progenitor star was a 25th-magnitude red supergiant star, exactly the type of star astronomers expect to detonate as a Type II supernova.

At magnitude 12.6, the supernova will be a challenging sight in telescopes smaller than 8″ to 10″.  The star is located about 93″ east and 135″ south of the galaxy’s core.  There are a few foreground stars from our own galaxy in the field of view, so the image above can help you sort out which star is which if you’re game to see this star visually.
While it appears faint, in real terms this star was 30,000 times brighter than our Sun before it exploded and has now increased its brightness by a factor of 100,000.  It will slowly fade over the next few weeks and will likely leave a neutron star in its wake along with an expanding shell of gas made of hydrogen, helium, and newly-formed heavier atoms.
M74, a 10th-magnitude face-on spiral galaxy, is located in the constellation Pisces.  This time of year, you need to stay up late or rise early to see Pisces well up in the eastern sky and by about 3 a.m.

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