Printer Friendly

Record-breaking supernova.

Astronomers have discovered the most luminous supernova ever recorded. At its peak, the stellar explosion, which erupted in a galaxy 4.7 billion light-years from Earth, was 100 billion times as bright as the sun.

Robert Quimby was hunting for supernovas with a tiny telescope, the 18-inch ROTSE-IIIb at McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, when he spotted the explosion. Follow-up observations with the same observatory's 10-meter Hobberly-Eberly Telescope hinted that light emitted by doubly ionized oxygen atoms in the supernova was shifted from its normal position in the spectrum to much longer, or redder, wavelengths. This suggestion of high redshift indicated that the supernova, found in 2005 and dubbed SN 2005ap, came from a remote galaxy. It had to be extremely luminous to be seen at such great distances.

"It [was] so luminous that I originally doubted the distance," says Quimby, now at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

A colleague of Quimby's observed the supernova's fading glow with the 10-m Keck I telescope atop Hawaii's Manna Kea. That spectrum showed emissions characteristic of both redshifted oxygen and magnesium, convincing Quimby that the supernova really is distant. He and his colleagues report the findings in the Oct. 20 Astrophysical Journal Letters.

SN 2005ap is classified as a type II supernova, marking the collapse of a massive star. It's about twice as luminous as the previous record holder, SN 2006gy, another type-II supernova found by Quimby using the same small telescope (SN: 5/12/2007, p. 293).--R.C.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved.

 
Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:ASTRONOMY
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 27, 2007
Words:250
Previous Article:The big dry: prolonged drought threatens Australia's people, wildlife, and economy.
Next Article:Polymer could improve natural gas purification.


Related Articles
For the Record&.
FOR THE RECORD.
FOR THE RECORD.
Ducks' season-opening test comes in form of Waves.
FOR THE RECORD.
LOVE ENOUGH FOR UCLA COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FRESHMAN HAS 18 POINTS, 16 REBOUNDS IN WIN OVER MARYLAND. UCLA 71, MARYLAND 59.
ON CD > REVIEWING THE MUSIC.
CROSS COUNTRY: SAUGUS, LOYOLA SETTING THE PACE.
Creating a mold-repair plan--Part II: the last shot inspection report.
Arctic sea ice falls to modern low.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters