Science Channel - InSCIder

22 Jan

A Star Just Exploded 'Next Door' And It's A Huge Deal

While you were sleeping, a supernova was spotted "practically next door" and it is, to paraphrase Joe Biden, a big freaking deal.

The stellar explosion occurred in the galaxy Messier 82 (M82), about 12 million light years from Earth. This means the star exploded nearly 12 million years ago and we're just seeing it. University College London claimed to be one of the first to spot the supernova, one of the closest since the 1980s.

It's a huge deal.

This animation, from Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes and Martino Nicolini, shows the before and after:

Animation of Supernova in M82 - January 22, 2014 by E. Guido, N. Howes, M. Nicolini photo new_animation_supernova_m82_22_gennaio_2014_zpsbd4116c7.gif

Want to see the supernova for yourself? Look into the constellation Ursa Major in the Northern Hemisphere. Skymania provided this map:

The best time to see the supernova "is as soon as the sky gets dark when it’s already up in the northeastern sky above the Dipper Bowl," reports Universe Today.

Researchers speculate this may be a type Ia supernova, which is "the type we use to measure the expansion of the Universe and so that would be especially exciting."

Astronomer and cosmologist Brad Tucker made this timelapse of a similar supernova beginning Oct. 24, 2012:

Want to learn more about supernovae? Check out this clip from Wonders of the Universe:

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