New Supernova

This was Astronomy Picture of the Day on 22/3/12.


It is a picture showing the recently observed supernova in the galaxy which is known as M95, 38 million lightyears away. The supernova therefore occurred 38 million years ago and we’re just seeing its light now. The supernova is the really bright spot towards the edge of the galaxy.

A supernova is just about the biggest explosion imaginable and occurs when a massive star reaches the end of its life. It is in supernovae like this that the universe’s (and therefore Chemistry’s) heavy elements are formed as it is only under such conditions of tempertaure and pressure that smaller atomic nuclei can fuse together to form the largest ones.

This is a video (from vimeo) which contrasts the supernova with M95’s appearance before the star exploded.

Supernova 2012aw in M95 from Adam Block on Vimeo.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

free hit counter script