Supernova Visible in the Night Sky

Guest_Jim_* - September 1, 2011 12:25PM in Science & Technology

A supernova is one of the most spectacular events to happen in the universe, and occasionally we here on Earth are fortunate enough to see one. One was recently observed by the Palomar Transient Factory and found by supercomputers at Berkeley Lab near the Big Dipper, in the Pinwheel Galaxy, and is only 21 million light-years away. This particular supernova is a type Ia where mass falls on a white dwarf, the dead core of an already dead star, and brings it back to life. The white dwarf does not have the gravity to reignite nuclear fusion, but with the additional mass it has collected carbon, fusion occurs with such violent force as to destroy the dwarf. Supernovae can last for weeks and increase in brightness over time, just as this one has, making it possible to view with binoculars. For instructions on how to view the supernova, check out the embedded video.