A Star Just Exploded In A Nearby Galaxy

It’s the first of its kind in 30 years. Boom.

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.

Exploding stars are common, nearly 50 stars blow up every second! However, the vastness of the Universe means they are rarely close to us.

— Brad Tucker (@btucker22)

55 emails sent in an hour about one exploding star. That is how important this is!

— Brad Tucker (@btucker22)

Why is this new #supernova in M82 exciting? Closest since 1987. Type we use to study dark energy. Binocular-visible. Might get neutrinos.

— Katie Mack (@AstroKatie)

9. The star resides in M82, a starburst galaxy nearly 12 million light years from Earth.

NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) / Via spacetelescope.org

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.

To find the new supernova in Messier 82 (M82), look north, and towards the constellation of Ursa Major.. http://t.co/P2QXzIILbp

— Nick Howes (@NickAstronomer)

11. If you have decent binoculars, you should be able to see it now. Here’s where to look.

IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) / Via en.wikipedia.org

“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.

Brad Tucker / Via youtube.com

(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.

15. Which is good news for science, but bad news for astronomers who had plans this weekend.

A new type Ia supernova in M82 means I won't sleep until the weekend. So much work, so much excitement.

— Brad Tucker (@btucker22)

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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