Amateur Astronomer Discovers Distant Supernova While Testing a New Camera

Amateur Astronomer Discovers Distant Supernova While Testing a New Camera

Thanks to the lucky snapshots taken by an amateur astronomer in Argentina, the astronomers have been able to capture the "first optical light" from a normal supernova, which are apparently super hard to obtain since stars explode seemingly at random in the sky and the light from shock breakout is fleeting. He further stated that nobody had ever captured such events before, it is like Buso had bucked odds of 1 in 10 million or 100 million.

"Professional astronomers have always been searching for such an event", said UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko, who was among the worldwide research team that conducted follow-up observations. It is expected that the light may help them to get significant information of the material surrounding the star which will further help them to get some idea into how stars in binary pairs pull mass off of each other and how this process plays role in the evolution of the star. The chance of catching this event is smaller than that of hitting the jackpot in a lottery, he says. He Spotted this while he was testing his 41-centimeter-long telescope at a spiral galaxy named NGC 613, situated around 80 million light years away from earth, in the southern constellation Sculpture. Buso took many short-exposure photographs of the galaxy.

The light caused by the pressure of a supersonic wave becomes bright when the exploding core of the star first makes contact with the gas found on its surface, causing it to heat up to an extremely high temperature.

A colleague of Buso at the Astrophysics Institute of Plata in Argentina, astronomer Melina Bersten, saw the fantastic event her fellow had caught and thought that the chance was one in a million.

In this project, scientists move one step closer to understanding the exact set of circumstances that trigger the supernova explosion - that one moment in time.

"If we think that on average each galaxy roughly produces one supernova per century, and that a century contains almost 900 thousand hours, then the chance probability of observing the right galaxy at the right moment is not much greater than one in a million".

The supernova, SN 2016gkg, could shed fresh light on the end stages of a star's life. Scientists are presently studying the light curve of the supernova which can reveal much more about the dying star. They immediately named the discovery as "SN 2016gkg", and contacted an global team of astronomers to ask for further observations.

"Buso's data are exceptional", Filippenko added in a statement from UC Berkeley.

Buso's finding allowed other professional astronomers to quickly train their own telescopes on the new supernova, allowing for deeper research that was published today in Nature.

They used the Shane 3-meter telescope at the University of California's Lick Observatory near San Jose, California, and the twin 10-meter telescopes of the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii.

Combining the data with theoretical models, the team estimated that the initial mass of the star was about 20 times the mass of our Sun. If the star lost most of its mass before the explosion, probably to a companion star, the final size would be about 5 solar masses when it finally exploded.

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