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Amateur Astronomer Spots Supernova Right As It Begins ( 52

New submitter Rotten shares a report from Gizmodo: Amateur astronomer Victor Buso was testing his camera-telescope setup in Argentina back in September 2016, pointing his Newtonian telescope at a spiral galaxy called NGC613. He collected light from the galaxy for the next hour and a half, taking short exposures to keep out the Santa Fe city lights. When he looked at his images, he realized he'd captured a potential supernova -- an enormous flash of light an energy bursting off of a distant star. Buso took more data and informed Argentine observatories, who announced the outcome of their follow-up observations today: "the serendipitous discovery of a newly born, normal type IIb supernova," according to the paper published in Nature. Not only did this demonstrate the importance of amateur astronomy, but Buso's images also provided evidence of the brief initial shockwave from the supernova, a phenomenon that telescopes rarely capture, since they'd have to be looking at the exact right place in the sky at the right time. Buso didn't just discover a supernova, though. He also presented evidence for the "long-sought shock-breakout phase," as the scientists write, an explosion of energy theorized to emanate from a shock wave at the supernova's source. The researchers point out that it's hard to generalize from a single supernova.
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Amateur Astronomer Spots Supernova Right As It Begins

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  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @03:14AM (#56174473)

    Seriously, I know editing is hard and all, but can you please tell us-- Is this 4 and a half days, 4 and a half weeks, 4 and a half months, or 4 and a half years?

    • Nevermind-- I misread. Tiny assed phone displays, messin' with my myopia.

      I see it is one and half hours. Meh.

  • "light an energy" should read, "light and energy" but what's a /. submission without an error introduced by the editor.

    Thanks for the nerd news. This made my day.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is it even legal for ordinary citizens to snoop the skies like this? What if they happen to see something that, for the security of the public, should be kept secret? What if they were terrorists? It's time to put a stop to this, the safety of our children is at stake!

  • by Provocateur ( 133110 ) <shedied&gmail,com> on Friday February 23, 2018 @05:21AM (#56174731) Homepage

    Can we call it Buso Nova?

  • by SeattleLawGuy ( 4561077 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @10:21AM (#56175513)

    I vaguely remember astrophysicists being excited about neutrino detectors detecting supernovas before you see the explosion, because the neutrinos generated at the center of a supernova had so little mass that they made it through the star's densely packed matter much more quickly than the rest of the energy transmission. Yes, here it is... []

    • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @11:11AM (#56175821)
      Yes, if the supernova is close enough that the increase in neutrinos is recognizable. The problem is, it doesn't give a very good direction. Basically somewhere off to the right. Someone at the detector also has to check the data before they can even determine the direction. Telescopes start searching for the supernova, but may take a few days to check all the galaxies in that direction before they find it. This guy had before and after images in his 1 1/2 hours of data.
  • I'm no expert in astronomy or digital image processing - but isn't there a technique for combining multiple lower resolution telescope images into a single high resolution image which is really reliable? What would the feasibility of taking a million of these tiny telescopes rigged with stepper motors for positioning to create a single virtual super-large aperture telescope? Would it be cheaper than the current best ground-based telescopes on the scale of ~100m in total cost?
    • Short answer, no. You would not get the angular resolution required unless you synchronize the data feeds. This is done to sub wavelengths of light. The reason is because the air moves. Its why they tend to be on high mountains, above as much air as possible. You have to have precise measurements to factor it out. They do build interferometers that work this way, but they have tunnels connecting them that are either vacuums or controlled environments. You would have to wait hours to days after a person ente
    • You can combine multiple mirrors within a single telescope, but you have to keep them aligned to enormous accuracy (50nm or so) so you still need a massive framework.

      You can combine multiple telescopes by actually steering the incoming light to a meeting point and interfering it, but it's incredibly hard to do. Everything needs to be super stable.

      You can't get (much) more detail by combining multiple digital images. You can get a bigger image, or a "deeper" image (one that shows fainter objects) but not a

"When anyone says `theoretically,' they really mean `not really.'" -- David Parnas