Astronomers 'excited' by supernova

2011-08-29 16:12
Cape Town - Astronomers have discovered a supernova that may help to test current theories of the universe.

Last spotted in 1972, a Type 1a supernova has been observed in the galaxy M101, about 21 million light years from Earth.

"We are very excited to get one this close," said Oxford University astronomer and Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) collaborator Mark Sullivan.

"We essentially discovered it the day it blew up."

Data from the supernova would be used to check on current theories of universe expansion and dark energy models.

Excited

"If you know what the expansion rate of the universe is, your theory would then predict how bright a supernova would appear at a certain red shift away from us," Dr Enrico Olivier of the South African Astronomical Observatory told News24.

"What has been found out is that supernovae [Type 1a] actually appear to be further away than what you'd expect in a 'normal' universe where the acceleration is slowly decreasing," he added.

Astronomers were particularly excited by the supernova because it presents an opportunity to study an object more closely than has been the case in the past.

"We know it's the youngest Type 1a ever observed," said Peter Nugent of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, who leads the Type 1a search group with PTF.

"This thing just shot up out of nowhere."

Type 1a supernovae are formed when white dwarf stars are pushed over a theoretical mass limit and are useful to astronomers because it allows them to measure distance.

Peak

"The assumption is that they all have nearly the same brightness and so we can therefore use them as distance indicators by seeing how bright they appear," said Olivier.

Observations of Type 1a supernovae in remote galaxies led to the revelation in 1998 that the expansion of the universe is speeding up over time due to the presence of dark energy, a poorly understood phenomenon.

The supernova will peak in early September and casual observers in the northern hemisphere should be able to see it with small telescopes under dark skies.


- Follow Duncan on Twitter
- News24
Read more on:    saao  |  astronomy
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
33 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Africa
 

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose

A device that converts nose breaths into speech will open new doors for people with Parkinson’s or motor neuron disease.

 
 

For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may take extra pride in your work today. You have a need to shine and be respected so you may put the extra effort and TLC...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.