facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Birth of nearby supernova observed

Aug. 26, 2011 at 4:58 PM   |   Comments

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Aug. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. and European astronomers say a supernova has been observed within hours of the beginning of the cosmic explosion, a rare feat for events of this type.

The discovery of a supernova so early in its life and so close to Earth -- around 21 million light-years away -- has astronomers around the world hustling to observe the phenomenon with as many telescopes as possible, said one of the leaders of the team that discovered it.

"We caught this supernova earlier than we've ever discovered a supernova of this type," physics Professor Andy Howell at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said.

"On Tuesday, it wasn't there. Then, on Wednesday, boom! There it was -- caught within hours of the explosion. As soon as I saw the discovery image I knew we were onto something big," Howell said in a UCSB release Friday.

Images of the supernova, classified as a Type Ia, from Wednesday night showed the supernova had brightened by more than a factor of 20 less than a day after discovery.

"Type Ia supernovae are the kind we use to measure the expansion of the universe," said Mark Sullivan of Britain's Oxford University, who was among the first to follow up on the detection. "Seeing one explode so close by allows us to study these events in unprecedented detail."

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Most Popular
1
Say goodbye to Chinese sturgeon Say goodbye to Chinese sturgeon
2
Video shows scientists dissecting colossal squid Video shows scientists dissecting colossal squid
3
Impact that doomed dinos enabled spread of modern forests Impact that doomed dinos enabled spread of modern forests
4
First 3D-printed car unveiled in Chicago First 3D-printed car unveiled in Chicago
5
Apple's latest operating system rolls out Wednesday afternoon Apple's latest operating system rolls out Wednesday afternoon
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback