Astronomers race to observe rare supernova in a nearby galaxy

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An exploding prima spotted successful nan Pinwheel galaxy, 21 cardinal ray years from Earth, offers a uncommon chance to watch a supernova unfolding successful existent time

By Jonathan O’Callaghan

Supernova SN 2023ixf successful nan Pinwheel galaxy, 21 cardinal ray years away

Sebastian Gomez et al.

A prima has exploded successful a postulation conscionable 21 cardinal ray years from Earth, giving astronomers a uncommon opportunity to watch a supernova unfold successful existent clip successful exquisite detail.

Supernova SN 2023ixf was discovered successful nan Pinwheel galaxy, aliases M101, connected 19 May by a Japanese amateur astronomer called Koichi Itagaki. It is nan closest supernova to Earth since SN 2014J successful 2014, which was immoderate 11 cardinal ray years away. The supernova, which already outshines its big galaxy, is expected to highest successful brightness successful nan coming days, but whitethorn stay visible for years.

While thousands of supernovae are seen each year, nan proximity of 2023ixf intends it tin beryllium studied successful overmuch much item than others. Telescopes crossed nan world were trained successful its guidance “within hours of its discovery”, says Azalee Bostroem astatine nan University of Arizona, deducing it was astir apt a type II supernova, successful which a supergiant prima runs retired of substance and collapses successful connected itself earlier exploding.

Bostroem has been allocated clip connected nan Hubble Space Telescope to study nan ultraviolet ray from nan explosion. So far, it looks for illustration nan supernova is interacting pinch worldly that was antecedently ejected by nan star, which nan Hubble observations could probe further. “How stars suffer wide is 1 of nan astir absorbing questions,” says Bostroem.

Two aliases 3 stars person been identified arsenic nan imaginable progenitor of nan supernova, including a type of monolithic prima known arsenic a Wolf-Rayet star, but nan supernova is presently excessively agleam to activity retired which it is. Hubble aliases moreover nan James Webb Space Telescope could show america much erstwhile nan supernova dims.

Observations of 2023ixf whitethorn supply invaluable information connected our knowing of really supernovae unfold. “This is going to beryllium for illustration a Rosetta Stone supernova,” says Bostroem. “It’s going to beryllium 1 of those ones that we comparison everything to.”


Source Science