Supernova Rendering

Supernova Illustration

This is a rendering of what a really large star going supernova might look like.  The area in white is the explosion of a star of unusually large size.  The orange portions are gasses and the yellow portion is where the fragments of the star are colliding and heating the gas rapidly.  This image was created to give a visual representation of what SN 2006gy might have looked like.  At the time in 2006, this was the brightest and most powerful supernova on record.

Astronomers, astrophysicists and other researchers around the world are constantly trying to find supernovae occurring in the universe.  Scientists at California colleges and universities have made many discoveries and breakthroughs in the study of supernovae.  If you look up public records in California you will find that in 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers from UC Berkeley, John Hopkins University and the Australian National University for their work on type 1a supernovae and dark energy.  The cosmology, astronomy and astrophysics programs at the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara consistently rank among the best in the country.

Most people that are interested in supernovae use whatever telescopes they can get access to, but researchers at certain colleges and universities are able to access specialized telescopes like NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. It’s a telescope that orbits the Earth and that has a specialized purpose of being able to observe X-ray emissions from supernovae, clustered galaxies and the materials around black holes.

In 2012, NASA launched NuSTAR, an orbiting telescope that can focus light in the high energy X-ray spectrum.  The telescope is also able to detect X-ray activity and will automatically aim at supernovae and other explosions involving gamma rays.  This telescope is a significant development for astronomers and required a great deal of collaboration between leading researchers at several universities and NASA.  Hopefully we will have access to a telescope one day that will provide an actual image of a star going supernova instead of having to create a rendering.

Distant supernova may reveal how universe expanded 10 billion years ago

Astronomers at the US DOE’s Berkeley Lab have found the most distant Type 1a supernova ever.  SN SCP-0401 is roughly 10 billion light-years away from Earth.  That means the supernova happened 10 billion years ago.  Given that Big Bang theory estimates the universe being created roughly 13.77 billion years ago, the discovery of SN SCP-0401 is particularly exciting.

SN SCP-0401 is not just far away either.  It has a very detailed spectrum and has excellent color measurement with a redshift of 1.71.  These features make this supernova an excellent one for gathering data on.  Researchers will study how the exploding star might have affected the universe over the 10 billion years since it went supernova.

The Supernova Cosmology Project (SCP) at Berkeley Lab used the Hubble Space Telescope to make the discovery.  SN SCP-0401 was originally spotted in 2004, but it was so far away that a new camera had to be installed to even see it.  That camera was installed in 2009 and the team at SCP was able to get a good view of SN SCP-0401 in January of 2013.

NASA determines supernova remnants create cosmic rays

It's official.  NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has found evidence that supernova remnants speed up cosmic rays to extremely high speeds. Scientists working on the project poured over several years of data collected by the Fermi Telescope … [Continue reading]

Kepler is youngest supernova in our galaxy ever seen by the naked eye

Johannes Kepler is one lucky man. He was alive 400 years ago to be able to see the youngest supernova in the Milky Way that has been seen from Earth. Amazingly, he was able to see the Kepler supernova without the aid of a telescope. They hadn't been … [Continue reading]

Meet the youngest supernova in our galaxy G1.9+0.3

Meet G1.9+0.3, the youngest supernova in the Milky Way that has ever been found.  This image is a combination of a radio image from the NRAO's VLA taken in 1985 and an x-ray image taken from NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope taken in 2007. In 2008, … [Continue reading]

Cassiopeia A no longer the youngest supernova in Milky Way

Cassiopeia A has been famous for being the youngest supernova remnant in the Milky Way for a long time. That changed in 2008 with the discovery of G1.9+0.3 by Stephen Reynolds at North Carolina State University. G1.9+0.3 is estimated to be 140 … [Continue reading]