Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space

Supernova 2011b Gradually Fading 122

Posted by timothy
from the worth-it-for-the-pictures-and-reflections dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The recent stellar explosion known as 'supernova 2011b' is gradually fading after outshining its host galaxy for over a month. The explosion first flared up in early January, and peaked at magnitude 12.9, putting it within the reach of many amateur telescopes. The host galaxy, NGC 2655, lies 64 million light years away, meaning that the star exploded while the dinosaurs still roamed the planet. My own sketches are available at gkastro.tk/."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Supernova 2011b Gradually Fading

Comments Filter:
  • Bam! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Suki I (1546431) on Friday February 04, 2011 @09:07PM (#35108676) Homepage Journal

    Emeril sure gets around.

  • Sketches? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TiggertheMad (556308) on Friday February 04, 2011 @09:07PM (#35108678) Homepage Journal
    Pics or it didn't explode....
  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Friday February 04, 2011 @09:20PM (#35108766)

                    *

  • Dinosaurs? (Score:5, Informative)

    by name_already_taken (540581) on Friday February 04, 2011 @09:20PM (#35108770)

    I thought the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago?

    That means they were already dead for a million years, 64 million years ago.

    • by sznupi (719324)
      Or even: the supernova happened now (well, a month ago) - as far as our frame of reference (and of dinosaurs, or what's left of them) is concerned.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        NO. In our frame of reference it happened ~64 million years ago and we are just now finding out about it. The only frame of reference where it occurs "now" is the frame of reference of the photons traveling at the speed of light. Relativity doesn't work that way.

        • by tm2b (42473)
          Actually, it does. The relativistic interval is 0 along the light cone from the event, which is how relativity defines simultaneity in a given interial frame.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Actually, it does. The relativistic interval is 0 along the light cone^H^H^H^H^H sphere from the event, which is how relativity defines simultaneity in a given interial frame.

            FTFY

            • Re:Dinosaurs? (Score:5, Informative)

              by wierd_w (1375923) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @12:38AM (#35109476)

              Sorry AC, Light cone is the correct terminology when discussing relativistic phenomena. It has to do with how the posibility function looks when graphed; it creates a cone shaped region. anything inside the cone is observable at some point in the lifetime of that photon generating event, anything outside that cone is not observable.

              The point that the GP was trying to drive home is that relativity outright rejects the notion of "standardized time", and also any notion of a "universal reference point" from which to observe without also suffering from relativistic effects.

              This is because time is a variable under relativity, and because all objects are in motion, and thus subject to relativistic effects. Your suggested correction of "light sphere" may not look very spherical from a specific vantage point, due to non-uniform spacial curvatures interacting with that light.

              Long story short, your correction is in fact, incorrect. Sorry.

          • by SETIGuy (33768)

            The relativistic interval is 0 along the light cone from the event.

            The relativistic interval is not a time interval, so it is incorrect to say that the event happened recently, unless you're in a very special frame. (i.e. Traveling along with the light from the supernova directly from the supernova to the earth at very close to the speed of light). It would have been very difficult for you to post your message from that frame. Since you're in essentially the same frame as we are, the supernova happened 64 million years ago.

        • by sznupi (719324)
          One could think a century is enough... (too bad it's apparently sufficient if something sounds convincing, reasonable; which doesn't really work in this particular field)

          Neither way of saying is particularly right or wrong (unless you insist on our locality). Just now observing something is simultaneity / there is no difference / it didn't exist for us (BTW, there is hardly any "now" for a photon, that would need time
      • by Urkki (668283)

        Or even: the supernova happened now (well, a month ago) - as far as our frame of reference (and of dinosaurs, or what's left of them) is concerned.

        Now it didn't. How far away is the point where the photons got emitted, as measured in our reference frame?

        How long time does it take for photons to travel that distance, as measured in our reference frame?

        Did the photons get emitted at the time of the explosion?

        • by sznupi (719324)
          The explosion as well as didn't exist for us until now.
          • by Urkki (668283)

            The explosion as well as didn't exist for us until now.

            That doesn't change anything. When we observed it, it started to retroactively exist for us. The time for the start of it's existence is the time it took for the light to travel that about 64 million light years. Calculating how many Earth years that is in our reference frame is left as exercise to the reader.

            • by sznupi (719324)
              It didn't exist for us, that changes quite a lot / just now observing something is simultaneity. But the point is ("Or even") - there is no difference, neither way of saying is particularly right or wrong (unless you insist on our locality / I would think we're past Newton by now)
              • by Urkki (668283)

                It didn't exist for us, that changes quite a lot / just now observing something is simultaneity. But the point is ("Or even") - there is no difference, neither way of saying is particularly right or wrong (unless you insist on our locality / I would think we're past Newton by now)

                For your information, there's no global reference frame in relativity... We have to pick a reference frame to talk about any events (such as a supernova explosion and humans observing it). And in any reference frame, the event did not happen when we observed the photons, it happened exactly distance/c=time ago. We don't have to pick any particular reference frame, the event still didn't happen "now", so that's always wrong.

                Well, you could pick the reference frame of the photons, but I'm not sure that's a va

                • by sznupi (719324)
                  How there's no privileged frame of reference, how all of them are equally valid, is the whole point. One which apparently you miss again, insisting on essentially Newtonian time tracking.
                  • by Urkki (668283)

                    How there's no privileged frame of reference, how all of them are equally valid, is the whole point. One which apparently you miss again, insisting on essentially Newtonian time tracking.

                    Now you must just be trolling...

                    But in case you aren't, show the math that says time of supernova is "now" == time of photons emitted is time of photons observed. I'm always open to updating my knowledge, and this case it'd be really easy, just look at the math. Note: Using reference frame of the photons wont' be valid math, as that produces essentially "division by zero" situation in the equations.

                    • by sznupi (719324)
                      You need math to see how it is "now" for us? Sure, some ideas of relativity are not exactly intuitive, but also not quite to such a point.

                      We can't even possibly know if 64 million years passed in the area of the supernova. Of course, it almost certainly did! ...but there's no way to know, this "past" doesn't yet exist for us. Let us entertain a thought experiment with dramatic(*) differences in passage of time between "here" and the galaxy in question, after the photons were emitted. When did the event h
                    • by Urkki (668283)

                      You need math to see how it is "now" for us? Sure, some ideas of relativity are not exactly intuitive, but also not quite to such a point.

                      Actually, as I think I'm right here, the point of the math would be to make you understand the issue, when you can't express the "now" with maths... ;-)

                      We can't even possibly know if 64 million years passed in the area of the supernova. Of course, it almost certainly did! ...but there's no way to know, this "past" doesn't yet exist for us. Let us entertain a thought experiment with dramatic(*) differences in passage of time between "here" and the galaxy in question, after the photons were emitted. When did the event happen in such case?

                      That would depend on the chosen reference frame. To get the time of in any given reference frame, the normal relativistic equations are used. None of those equations produce time that is the "now". As long as you don't include any time-like loops, there won't be any contradictions, it'll all add up. And it won't add up to "now", IOW that interpretation is wr

                    • by sznupi (719324)
                      Actually, using maths, calculating time dilation for emitting galaxy would be somewhat redundant (since we can't know). It's an exercise in hypothetical. In which you seem inclined to accept an event with an apparent age (via our standard and - again - almost certainly always appropriate extraction out of distance) in quite weird relation to the time in its place of origin - now it starts to look less practical (again, not wrong - round trip clears up the changes in one reference frame without paradoxes; wi
                    • by sznupi (719324)
                      Look at the dates in the story.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        My thumb is the size of that car, from my frame of reference. The only way to compare them is to move both of them to the same frame of reference.

        Problem is, as I walk towards that car to compare my thumb with it, the car moves away faster than I can walk, so my thumb is getting bigger and bigger all the time.

        Sometimes we need an abstract frame of reference. It's no use saying "nothing moves faster than a photon" so we need to be limited to the speed photons can move. What we need to do is move both events

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Birds are still around.

  • Interestingly enough, the news of the supernova's explosion didn't made it to Slashdot, but it fading away was more interesting somehow. Kinda like when George W. Bush left the office I guess.
  • by $0.02 (618911) on Friday February 04, 2011 @09:53PM (#35108926)

    A supernova explodes. Slashdot reports 64 million years later.

  • by Lotana (842533) on Friday February 04, 2011 @09:55PM (#35108936)

    If only I would of found out about the supernova back in January! Never seen one before and it is possible that there won't be another within my lifetime. At least I can still find this one in the sky before it completely fades.

    Obviously Slashdot can't be relied upon to give us up-to-date news. What sites do you use to be notified of non-mainstream events like this as they happen?

    • Re:Damn it! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Suki I (1546431) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:12PM (#35109010) Homepage Journal

      http://www.novaresource.org/ [novaresource.org]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Devoted to 1962-1979 Chevy II/Novas?" What?

    • Re:Damn it! (Score:5, Informative)

      by jc42 (318812) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:21PM (#35109046) Homepage Journal

      If only I would of found out about the supernova back in January! Never seen one before and it is possible that there won't be another within my lifetime.

      Don't worry. If you accept supernovas like this one, that's in a different galaxy than ours, there are plenty of them somewhere in the universe every year. It's only if you want one in our galaxy that you have to wait, since the frequency is on the order of one per century.

      There was one in the Large Magellanic Cloud back in 1987, easily visible to the naked eye (if you were in the southern hemisphere).

      Actually, it's getting to be time we had one in our galaxy. But unfortunately, they don't seem to be scheduled anywhere that we can easily read. The schedule has probably been on file at our local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of our years, but we can't be bothered to make the short trip to check it out. So we'll just have to keep looking up at the night sky until something new appears there.

      • by Maritz (1829006)
        Supernovae in the Milky Way galaxy seem to be less frequent than expected, but this could be explained if lately they've been happening on the far side of the core of the galaxy from us. The concentration of objects there and the dust lanes mean we might not notice a supernova there at all, or we'd have to be lucky and looking in just the right spot at the right time.
    • Re:Damn it! (Score:4, Informative)

      by robogun (466062) on Friday February 04, 2011 @11:50PM (#35109332)

      It's not that bright, you need a good telescope to see it. Not that rare either, one hits 12th magnitude once or twice a year. It looks like just another very dim star in the scope. The difference between January and now isn't much at all.

      Now, if one were to pop off in our part of the galaxy it would be news. Astronomers have been waiting for one visible to the naked eye for about 400 years.

      Here's a list of current supernovae:
      http://www.rochesterastronomy.org/supernova.html [rochesterastronomy.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hey, you could always be lucky enough that Betelgeuse explodes sometime soon.

      The activity of that big guy has been increasing a lot recently, showing that it could go in to supernova at some point.
      But, since we haven't really seen one this huge up close before such a time, we really have no idea if it could explode tomorrow or a million years time.

      • by Sepodati (746220)

        no idea if it could explode tomorrow or a million years time.

        I had a chuckle here when the news said something about that. According to them, scientists say the star could explode before the end of the year or sometime in the next million years. lol... way to narrow it down.

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          the star could explode before the end of the year or sometime in the next million years. lol... way to narrow it down.

          Welcome to a reality that is not designed in any way, shape or form for your comfort or convenience.

          That's life. Live with it. Or die. Your choice which.

  • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:18PM (#35109028)

    When an event is X light-years away, and we're just seeing it now, people speak of the event "having happened" X years ago, on the grounds that it takes X years for light to travel that distance. But how meaningful is it to think of the faraway event as being exactly concurrent with an earthly event X years ago? Light from faraway shows events from when the universe was/is in a less advanced state, so we may try to think of that as the "past". But in a way, for us, those far away events are really "now". There isn't a previous time at which we could witness them without time travel, not even in principle. Furthermore, the thought that "the event really occurred X years ago" seems to assume a universal standard of time, independent of the location and velocity of the observer, by which far apart events can be ordered. But time is not like that is it?

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:34PM (#35109088) Homepage Journal

      No, it's not; you're absolutely right. In our frame of reference, it just happened recently -- and while you could say, "yeah, but in the star's reference frame, it happened tens of millions of years ago," it's also true that in the star's reference frame, dinosaurs on Earth are just now going extinct. IOW, it's not a very meaningful reference frame from where we're sitting.

      The "well, actually it happened X million years ago" comments that seem to accompany every /. story about some distant, recently observed astronomical event are an example of the classic nerd failing of assuming that because we're smart people who know a lot about a lot of things, we're geniuses who know everything about everything. And I'm probably as guilty of it as anyone else ...

      • I don't know what you are talking about. I do know everything.

      • almafuerte@almafuerte-laptop:~/Desktop/android-sdk-linux_x86$ ping -c1 slashdot.org
        PING slashdot.org (216.34.181.45) 56(84) bytes of data.
        64 bytes from slashdot.org (216.34.181.45): icmp_req=1 ttl=241 time=197 ms

        Damn! I'm communicating with the past!

        Understanding time's true nature and the real effect that nature has on how we experience reality isn't simple. The fundamental question lies in whether we choose to refer to the actual event, or we choose to refer to the information about that event reaching us

        • and given that we find it convenient to refer to past events that happen close enough as "now", we should say that the event has just occurred, instead of pretending that saying it happened 64 million years ago changes anything for us.

          The same logic applies in the reverse too: referring to it as happened 64 million years ago changes nothing for us so it's pointless to pretend it's happening now.

        • by Thing 1 (178996)
          You also just communicated with the future.
      • No, it's not; you're absolutely right. In our frame of reference, it just happened recently -- and while you could say, "yeah, but in the star's reference frame, it happened tens of millions of years ago," it's also true that in the star's reference frame, dinosaurs on Earth are just now going extinct. IOW, it's not a very meaningful reference frame from where we're sitting.

        I don't understand that. This whole relativity thing sounds really just like bullsh*t, nothing more: if something happened a long time ago but we are only able to see it now, it STILL happened a long time ago. Lacking the ability to see the event doesn't mean the event never happened.

        Meh, this whole relativity-bullshit seems like a phase: it's 'cool' and 'hip' to refer to everything as relative and as happening all the time and so geeks are falling over themselves trying to be 'cool' and 'hip' among their p

        • Maybe, maybe not. But placing events from a relativistic POV can get complicated real fast. The entire concept makes my head hurt. But imagine 2, 3, or more alien civilizations debating on when a galactic event took place. So yes, I agree. I think all events should be referenced at when they actually took place on-site, not when they are taking place from our locality.

        • Yeah, you're absolutely right. You don't understand it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 05, 2011 @12:17AM (#35109416)

        In our frame of reference, it just happened recently

        That's not correct. Or at least that's not how simultaneity and past/present/future are defined in relativity, which seems to be what you're referring to with "frame of reference". I suppose you could define 'now' in that way... but that's not how it's defined in modern physics.

        In our inertial reference frame, it happened ~64 million years ago. In the star's reference frame, it also happened ~64 million years ago. It's true there is no such thing as a universal reference frame, so one can certainly construct inertial reference frames (e.g. with large velocities relative to us) where the event occurred at different times. Even 'now' (in that reference frame). But the velocity difference between us and the supernova is modest (in the grand scheme of the universe) and thus our two references frames roughly agree about simultaneity and so on.

        It's a strange misconception that people interpret relativity to mean that all space-time events on our past light-cone [wikipedia.org] are 'now'. Relativity doesn't say that. It includes a well-defined concept about what is in the past, what is in the future, and the boundary between them being 'now'. We are not immediately aware of all space-time events on the 'now' plane... because it takes time for their signals to reach us. But when we receiving signals we are able to reconstruct and deduce what happened at previous moments. It is true that inertial reference frames do not agree on what 'now' means, and thus don't agree on simultaneity. But within a particular inertial reference frame, there is a meaningful concept of 'now'.

        Again, I suppose you could define 'now' in such a way, but it's not at all useful to think of the big bang happening 'right now' as we look far out into space. It makes much more sense to think in terms of it having happened 13.7 billion years ago, and we're only now receiving signals from the afterglow of the big bang from distant regions of space.

        • Again, I suppose you could define 'now' in such a way, but it's not at all useful to think of the big bang happening 'right now' as we look far out into space. It makes much more sense to think in terms of it having happened 13.7 billion years ago, and we're only now receiving signals from the afterglow of the big bang from distant regions of space.

          I think whether or not its useful to think of it one way or the other depends on what insight you're trying to gain when you're thinking about it. I also think we can reasonably define "now" any way we want to, as long as we do it in an internally consistent manner and attempt to communicate how we're using the word. Thinking about the big bang as if its in the "past" right here but "now" far away might yield something useful, as something to consider anyway. I really was asking an exploratory question,

        • by Trogre (513942)

          Can I please be among the first to say: Thank You.

          Every time some far away event is reported on /. someone brings up the silly notion that the concept of "happened a long time ago" has no meaning simply because we don't have means to observe the event any earlier than when the light hits us. Currently this is (distance in light years) years after the event actually occurred, but perhaps one day we (sorry, our descendants, definitely not us) might figure out a way to warp space or locate wormholes or some o

        • one can certainly construct inertial reference frames (e.g. with large velocities relative to us) where the event occurred at different times

          There's the key question: are all inertial reference frames equivalent?

          I would say that we do have one preferred inertial frame, which is the one where the background radiation of the universe has zero dipole. Of course, considering the expansion of the universe, this preferred frame is local, but it allows us to define a universal "now" for all practical purposes.

          A fact that should be always kept in mind is that relativity has been very useful for accurate calculations in dimensions scaling up to solar sys

          • Being preferred doesn't make the reference frame absolute, just useful. That's no contradiction to all inertial reference frames being equivalent. I do agree, though, that the whole dark matter/energy concept seems like a kludge that just cries out for a more elegant theory.
        • by Old Wolf (56093)

          In our inertial reference frame, it happened ~64 million years ago. In the star's reference frame, it also happened ~64 million years ago. It's true there is no such thing as a universal reference frame, so one can certainly construct inertial reference frames (e.g. with large velocities relative to us) where the event occurred at different times. Even 'now' (in that reference frame). But the velocity difference between us and the supernova is modest (in the grand scheme of the universe) and thus our two references frames roughly agree about simultaneity and so on.

          Not really, the relative velocities are sizeable, when you consider our rotation about our galactic centre. Imagine this fraction of a degree of rotation of the simultaneous space within spacetime, but taken out to the distance of 64 MLy - it's now a difference that is large in magnitude. (We should really do an exact calculation I suppose..)

          It's a strange misconception that people interpret relativity to mean that all space-time events on our past light-cone [wikipedia.org] are 'now'. Relativity doesn't say that. It includes a well-defined concept about what is in the past, what is in the future, and the boundary between them being 'now'. We are not immediately aware of all space-time events on the 'now' plane... because it takes time for their signals to reach us. But when we receiving signals we are able to reconstruct and deduce what happened at previous moments. It is true that inertial reference frames do not agree on what 'now' means, and thus don't agree on simultaneity. But within a particular inertial reference frame, there is a meaningful concept of 'now'.

          I don't think it is all that meaningful. The past and future only intersect on the exact point where our observer is. Everything else on the so-called "simultaneous spa

          • Not really, the relative velocities are sizeable, when you consider our rotation about our galactic centre. Imagine this fraction of a degree of rotation of the simultaneous space within spacetime, but taken out to the distance of 64 MLy - it's now a difference that is large in magnitude. (We should really do an exact calculation I suppose..)

            Um, what? It sounds like you're saying that there's some significance to our angular velocity around our galactic center. I think that's not true.

            If it were, imagine the relativistic effects from our angular velocity relative to the center of our planet, around which we revolve in a mere 24 hours. Projecting that out to a radius of 64 MLy, we trace out a circle with a circumference of 402 MLy in the span of a day, a rate of almost 150 billion times the speed of light.

            • by Old Wolf (56093)

              Not angular velocity. Say for argument's sake our galaxy and the other one are stationary with respect to each other. Then, sometimes our system will be hurtling towards the other galaxy and sometimes it will be hurtling away (depending how far around our galactic orbit we are).

              For a better explanation than I have offered so far, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rietdijk%E2%80%93Putnam_argument [wikipedia.org]

      • by Khashishi (775369)

        Right idea, but you have the wrong time transformation. The 64 million year figure is probably in our frame of reference. The time is probably calculated by looking at the redshift of the light and applying some model for the universe's expansion. If we see the light reaching us today, that doesn't mean it exploded today. That's not what relativity says. It still happened long ago, but how long ago depends on how fast we are moving relative to the star. We can change how long ago the star exploded by changi

      • by taara (687286)
        This is, what could be called incorrectly referenced reference frame :) Our reference frame is special, because this is the reference frame we observe things. Why should we choose any other reference frame from multitude of infinite? And in our reference frame the supernova happened about 64 000 000 years ago. I do not understand the confusion here. I could understand the statements though if the person talking does not have insight into special theory of relativity...
      • by Raenex (947668)

        classic nerd failing of assuming that because we're smart people who know a lot about a lot of things, we're geniuses who know everything about everything. And I'm probably as guilty of it as anyone else ...

      • by r55man (615542)

        Thought experiment repost... (posted anonymously by accident)

        The year is 2850. Humans have created wormholes, and these wormholes allow them to effectively teleport from Earth to any region of space where a wormhole has been established. After 150 years of development, the farthest spaceport established is now one light-week from Earth.

        A camera at this spaceport constantly beams a signal back to Earth, and one day it records a murder. A week later, when the signal reaches Earth, police jump on the case. Bef

        • by Effexor (544430)

          Well if it was really important why didn't they have someone teleport over to earth to tell people right away? Sending a signal they know will take a week when they could have travelled faster than the speed of light, or even just teleported a message over clearly indicates that they didn't want it solved. I question the lot of them, its clearly a conspiracy. All of them did it, case closed and it didn't take Poirot to solve it.

          Wait I got one. A murder takes place in 1 week. A recording is made and s

        • by Old Wolf (56093)

          Not sure what the point of this is, as the same theory by which you judge the guy died a few hours ago, also says that these wormholes are impossible. You can't eat your cake and have it!

    • You sound like Sinclair trying to convince G'Kar that he really didn't miss the right time to hold the G'Quan Eth ritual [wikipedia.org]. But if it's good enough for G'Kar, it's good enough for me.

    • by jc42 (318812) on Friday February 04, 2011 @10:57PM (#35109170) Homepage Journal

      Furthermore, the thought that "the event really occurred X years ago" seems to assume a universal standard of time, independent of the location and velocity of the observer, by which far apart events can be ordered. But time is not like that is it?

      Well, yes and no. That can be true for events viewed by observers moving at a sufficiently high speed relative to each other. But this remote galaxy is probably only moving relative to us at a few hundred km/sec, which is a sufficiently slow speed that (for our purposes here) they can be considered in the same reference frame. In such cases, comparing time is simple (though perhaps not doable to nanosecond accuracy).

      An example on a smaller time scale: Light moves about 299 792 458 km in a second, and the Earth's diameter is about 12,742 km. So the Earth is approximately 43 light-milliseconds in diameter. Yet it's possible (if not trivial) to synchronize clocks on the Earth's surface to nanosecond precision, and there are communication protocols that keep them synchronized. The GPS system wouldn't work if this weren't possible, and those satellites are moving relative to us even faster than the Earth's surface or this supernova.

      One interesting use of this where such precision is critical is that astronomers sometimes combine the data from telescopes scattered around the world to make a large telescope with an effective aperture as wide as the Earth. Doing this requires measuring the arrival time of light waves with precision much better than 43 microseconds. The better precision, the less fuzzy the resulting images are.

      This is possible because all those telescopes have very small velocities relative to each other. The max relative speed of two objects on the Earth's surface is twice the rotation speed of a spot on the equator. That's such a small fraction of the speed of light that it's negligible, and they can be treated as being in the same frame to many more than 10 decimal places.

      If a remote astronomical object were moving at .99c relative to us, calculating relative times from both viewpoints would be complex and a bit strange to most people. But at relative speeds of .000001c or less, as with NGC 2655 and our galaxy, comparing times to within a few years is simple and straightforward (as astronomers measure such things ;-).

      • by Kentari (1265084)
        The host galaxy of SN2011b is moving away at 1400km/s (NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database [caltech.edu]). The velocity of the SN will be around that. Quite a bit faster than GPS satellites (or we'd have to launch new ones every day).
        • by jc42 (318812)
          Thanks for the number. I looked for it, but didn't find it.

          Of course, 1400 kn/s is only about .000005 c, so for all practical purposes, the galaxy and its supernova are in our frame of reference. There's probably a much larger error bar on our estimate of the distance, which is probably only good to 2 or 3 decimal places.

          But media articles (even the scientific media) usually doesn't give us the error-bar information. ;-)

    • There's a real question regarding the meaning of "simultaneous" when speaking of events that occur at a great distance. In spacetime, if something happens at a distance of X light-years and no signal or causality can traverse that distance in less than X years, then it may make sense to regard the event as simultaneous with our observation of it.

      • by mdielmann (514750)

        And this is why simultaneous has a scientific definition [wikipedia.org]. There is a frame of reference where any one of the three options (dinosaurs died first, star supernovaed first, both happened at the same time) is (more or less) correct.

    • If our frame of reference were perpetually, immortally static, what you say would be meaningful.

      But it isn't. Our frame of reference could change. Therefore, we need to consider a more absolute value for time.

  • The star exploded in January, not when the Dinosaur's were around.

    • The star exploded when dinosaurs were on this planet. If you were in the neighbor of the exploding star (right there when it happens) when it explodes - at the same times, 64 million light years away, we have dinosaurs on this planet. Relativity b.s. It still exploded a LONG time ago - 64 million years ago.
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      The star exploded in January, not when the Dinosaur's were around.

      The Dinosaurs left November to become the Birds.

    • by Urkki (668283)

      The star exploded in January, not when the Dinosaur's were around.

      You've got some mighty fast photons then. I mean, just think, how long distance in our reference frame did the photons travel since January? Wow!

      Or if you're referring to a January 64 million years ago, I'm sure there are many scientists who'd love to see the math and observations, which let you calculate it was just January, and not for instance Terturary ;-)

      • Maybe you should try understanding what Special Relativity means with respect to the speed of light, events and frames of reference. There is no universal time. When the first instance of an event is recorded that is when the even occurred.

        • by Old Wolf (56093)

          You are completely wrong and do not understand relativity

          All space-time events exist and they all have coordinates (x,y,z,t). Space-time is a fixed structure that does not 'evolve' - time is within it. The fact that there is no 'universal time', aka. no privileged frame of reference, just means that there is no fundamental values of the coordinates. Each observer reckons the coordinates to be different. Observers on Earth reckon the 't' coordinate of this supernova to be 64 million years smaller than the '

    • by Old Wolf (56093)

      Is this a new slashdot meme?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Have we ever gotten something better than a few light plates worth of data from an in-progress supernova? I.e. an optical (false color or similar) shot of the thing going off?

    It would be fantastic if we could see the shockwave of matter grow and distort. The scale of the explosion should be easily identified but I suppose things may be too hot to image optically with known techniques?

  • Supernova Rates (Score:2, Redundant)

    by mrsquid0 (1335303)

    New supernovae are detected at a rate of about one a day, and that rate will increase as new survey telescopes go online over the next few years. Overall a supernova goes off about once a second somewhere in the Universe.

  • Sketches? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ddd0004 (1984672) on Friday February 04, 2011 @11:59PM (#35109352)
    Can't you just get the software they use on CSI Miami and click "enhance" like a million times.
    • by rubycodez (864176)
      that's for w33n0rz, what you really want is the software Decker uses. "track 45 left....stop....enhance!"
  • by Isaac-1 (233099) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @01:39AM (#35109618)

    Translation, it is photographically within the reach of telescopes costing only a couple of thousand dollars, and from a good dark sky location visually within the reach of telescopes costing about as much as a typical reasonably nice used car (that is as a very dim pinpoint). The number of amateur telescopes in the world that can provide a decent view of this object is probably fewer than the number of people that will end up posting in this message thread.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by martinux (1742570)

      Magnitude 12.9 is quite visible to a 254mm (10 inch) newtonian (dobsonian) telescope that would cost you less than $600 if you picked one up second-hand. The trick is familiarising yourself with the night sky to be sure you're looking at the correct dim dot. ;)
      For thousands of dollars (and a lot of patience) you can discover them yourself using a computer controlled mount and a modest amount of aperture: Dave Grennan *discovered* a supernova from the outskirts of Dublin city using a 14 inch Cassegrain scope

      • by Isaac-1 (233099)

        I don't know if I would go with quite visible in a 10 inch newtonian, maybe under near ideal skies it is faintly visible to experienced observers using averted imagination. By comparison for the type skies accessible within a couple of hours or driving time to the majority of the U.S. population and to clearly see an object of this brightness as something more than a faint cloud that one questions if they ever saw in the first place it would likely take a well built telescope of at least 15-18 inch size ra

    • by Kentari (1265084) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @09:56AM (#35110942) Homepage

      Photographically it is well within reach of DSLRs equiped with a 200mm lens. I managed to go down to magnitude 17 (or 100 times less bright) and even fainter with a Canon 20D and a 200mm f/2.8 lens, placed on a tracking mount and exposed for about 2 hours (accumulated in exposures of a few minutes). I'm sure it would even lie within the limits of a 50mm lens. The problem becomes distinguishing it from the host galaxy.

      Visually it was within reach of 4.5" beginner scopes at dark locations! These will set you back less than $200 nowadays. A $1000 12" would have produced very decent views of the SN together with it's host galaxy. There are a lot of telescopes of this size around. You obviously should take the time to visit a public observatory once.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I created a web page to archive 2011B images:
    http://www.RochesterAstronomy.org/sn2011/sn2011b.html

    If you would like to take a look at some other current supernovae:
    http://www.RochesterAstronomy.org/snimages/index.html

Please go away.

Working...