1. Amateur astronomers have spotted an exploding star in a galaxy not far from Earth.
2. Brad Tucker, an astronomer at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, and University of California, Berkeley, told BuzzFeed:
A possible supernova was reported by amateur astronomers from Russia on 22 January and confirmed by multiple sources later that day.
3. Here it is.
It’s a type 1a supernova, a type of dying star that help astronomers to measure distances in the universe.
4. It’s the closest supernova of its kind in 30 years, so astronomers are getting pretty excited about it.
9. The star resides in M82, a starburst galaxy nearly 12 million light years from Earth.
Which technically means it exploded 12 million years ago, and we’re just seeing it happen now.
10. The supernova is in the constellation Ursa Major, also known as the Great Bear.
11. If you have decent binoculars, you should be able to see it now. Here’s where to look.
“In two weeks when it is near its brightest and the moon is not up, even a small cheap pair of binoculars will be able to see it,” says Tucker.
12. This timelapse of a similar exploding star in 2012 shows how quickly the new supernova will brighten.
(The bright dot that appears above the central bright region was a supernova observed between 24 October 2012 and 16 January 2013.)
13. Katie Mack, a cosmologist at the University of Melbourne, told BuzzFeed:
Observing this [supernova] could help us better understand the more distant ones, and potentially shed light on the mystery of what’s causing the expansion of the universe to speed up.
14. We know little about how these stars explode, so every new one that happens provides astronomers with valuable information. Tucker says:
The earlier we can observe a supernova, the more clues we get. This really could be a game changer.