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New images of ‘nearest supernova for 40 years’

Science

Jonathan Wood | 26 Aug 11

Supernova has got much brighter over three nights

Dr Mark Sullivan of the Department of Physics at Oxford University has sent us some new images from last night of the nearest type 1a supernova for 40 years, which we reported yesterday on our news pages.

The first (above) shows the first three nights of observing the supernova, and how it's obviously getting brighter very rapidly. Click here to see a larger version.

The second (below) is a colour image courtesy of BJ Fulton/Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope.

Dr Sullivan and colleagues spotted the supernova in the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101, a spiral galaxy 21 million light years away lying in the famous constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major).

The PTF11kly supernova is likely to be at its brightest around Sunday 4 September.

Dr Sullivan told us yesterday that, ‘The best time to see this exploding star will be just after evening twilight in the Northern hemisphere in a week or so’s time. You’ll need dark skies and a good pair of binoculars, although a small telescope would be even better.’

Professor Peter Nugent, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the USA, said: ‘Observing PTF 11kly unfold should be a wild ride. It is an instant cosmic classic.’

Colour image of supernova - aug 26