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New Supernova Seen In Nearby Galaxy M82 125

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the very-big-boom dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "A new and potentially bright supernova was just discovered in the nearby galaxy M82. This is a Type Ia supernova, the catastrophic explosion of a white dwarf. It appears to be on the rise, and may have been caught as much as two weeks before peak brightness. It's currently already brighter than magnitude 12, and may get to mag 8, easy to see in small telescopes. The galaxy is less than 12 million light years away, so this may become one of the best-studied supernovae in recent times. Type Ia supernovae are used to measure dark energy, so seeing one nearby is a huge boon to astronomy."
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New Supernova Seen In Nearby Galaxy M82

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  • Just sayin'.....
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @02:22PM (#46037581) Homepage

    Type Ia supernovae are used to measure dark energy, so seeing one nearby is a huge boon to astronomy.

    I love Astronomers ... sure, 12 million light years away can be construed as 'nearby' on some scales.

    Obviously galaxies tend to be a little further away, but it's definitely a relative use of the term 'nearby'.

    Having said that ... go science! This is pretty cool.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Type Ia supernovae are used to measure dark energy, so seeing one nearby is a huge boon to astronomy.

      I love Astronomers ... sure, 12 million light years away can be construed as 'nearby' on some scales.

      Obviously galaxies tend to be a little further away, but it's definitely a relative use of the term 'nearby'.

      Having said that ... go science! This is pretty cool.

      I always get a kick out of the title "The Local Group", which means stars in our relative vicinity, 12 ly or so. Big distances, but if you can't handle 'relative' then it's tough sledding doing anything with astronomy.

    • by istartedi (132515)

      12 million light years away can be construed as 'nearby' on some scales.

      I'm going to check that out. AFK, BRB.

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      Obviously galaxies tend to be a little further away, but it's definitely a relative use of the term 'nearby'.

      Conceptually?

    • It's well within the Virgo Supercluster, but outside the local group, Happy now?

    • Most of my career has been taken up in cosmology. To me, a megaparsec is the smallest smidgeon that I'll even consider looking at. (Well, until more recently when I've deigned to look at scales as small as a few thousand parsecs.) For context, a megaparsec is the size of a supercluster of galaxies, something like three or four million light years.

    • by einyen (2035998)
      12 million light years is ~ 120 times the diameter of the Milky Way which is indeed "local" to our own galaxy. By comparison 120 times the Earth's diameter is roughly 1.5 million kilometers (~ 1 million miles) which is indeed "local" to Earth: Only 4 times the distance to the moon and only 1% of the distance to the Sun.
  • Huge boon (Score:1, Offtopic)

    More like huge boom! lol amirite?
  • The galaxies M81 and M82 are only about 300K ly from each other. A decent telescope can image them both at the same time. Relatively easy to find in Ursa Major too. I look forward to viewing this during the next new Moon.
    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:04PM (#46038797) Homepage

      The galaxies M81 and M82 are only about 300K ly from each other. A decent telescope can image them both at the same time.

      Not if you were standing between them.

      • by dataspel (2436808)

        The galaxies M81 and M82 are only about 300K ly from each other. A decent telescope can image them both at the same time.

        Not if you were standing between them.

        I will make sure not to do that during the next star party.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      The galaxies M81 and M82 are only about 300K ly from each other. A decent telescope can image them both at the same time.

      Well, technically, the less decent the telescope is the better the chance of "imaging" both at the same time - less magnification = larger FOV. Any photo of the night sky at the right time would contain both, not that you'd actually see them.

      • by dataspel (2436808)
        Agreed, good point.
      • Actually the better telescope (Cost more) is the one with the largest apeture and the lowest focal ratio (lowest mag) because highly curved mirrors needed for lower mag are hard to produce.
        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Actually the better telescope (Cost more) is the one with the largest apeture and the lowest focal ratio (lowest mag) because highly curved mirrors needed for lower mag are hard to produce.

          I'm really not an expert in telescopes, but from what I've seen you can spend a lot of money on a telescope in almost any focal ratio. Also, strictly speaking lower focal ratio doesn't necessarily mean lower magnification, but it does mean lower magnification for a given aperture. Virtually all telescopes involve compromise from engineering feasibility to siting to cost. A moderately-priced scope with a nice wide FOV might be desirable for scouting for asteroids, while scopes placed in space don't really

  • Neutrinos? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Framboise (521772) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @02:43PM (#46037877)

    THE question I am sure many will think about is how many neutrinos will be detected.
    For supernova 1987a at 168'000 light years 24 neutrinos have been detected.
    At 12 mega light years M82 is 71 times further, which dilutes the neutrinos by a factor ~5000.
    So the answer is 0 neutrino if the detectors were the same as in 1987.
    I doubt that the present detectors have improved by a factor 1000 in the meanwhile,
    but I would be glad to be disproved.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      1987A was a type II supernova which can have ~1000 times as much energy in neutrinos than a type I like this one. So even if they were the same distance a much smaller signal would be seen.
      • 1987A was also in one of the Magellanic Clouds, which are climbing all over us. It seems unfortunately unlikely we'll get many neutrinos from this, although the improvement in technology since the 80s might mean we get roughly the same number as from 1987A. (Less than 20 detections -- 17 or so, if memory serves me, which these days it rarely does.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's a type Ia supernovae, which do not produce neutrios in large numbers. So even if it were at the same distance as 1987A (a type II SNe), we still woudn't expect to detect any.

  • Should we get out our sunscreen?

  • by YoungManKlaus (2773165) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @03:12PM (#46038237)

    only here 12 million light-years could be implied to be near ^^

  • ... would like to welcome our new supernova refugee overlords!

  • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:23PM (#46039011)

    It's currently already brighter than magnitude 12, and may get to mag 8, easy to see in small telescopes.

    That's a pretty optimistic statement given the rampant state of light pollution around the world!

    The naked eye limit is Mag. 3 for most of us who live near any streetlights. Magnitude 8 objects require a 6-8" telescope, preferably with tracking if you want to find the Mag. 8 galaxy.

    I don't think of telescopes above 4" as "small."

    I type this not to be annoying, but because a lot of people are going to waste a lot of time at night trying to see this thing when it is likely beyond their equipment (or patience) limit.

  • just goes to show everything has a life cycle even the galaxy its self.
    • Strictly speaking it goes to show that a white dwarf can have a life cycle. The galaxy this supernova went bang-bang in is going to happily carry on for billions upon billions of years yet.

  • This sounds like a video game perk. "Visible Supernova - Temporary 5% increase in research "
    • by Quirkz (1206400)

      It does. I know Spaceward Ho! had events like that occasionally. Did Master of Orion 2 as well?

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