Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Astrophotographers Rush to Capture Images of New Supernova 2014J

The new supernova in M82 captured by the 32-inch Schulman Telescope (RCOS) at the Mount Lemmon Sky Center in Arizona on January 23, 2014. Credit and copyright: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Astrophotographers Rush to Capture Images of New Supernova 2014J

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With news yesterday of the closest confirmed type Ia supernova since the 1800′s, astronomers in the northern hemisphere risked frostbite and hoped for clear skies to try and capture images of the newly named supernova, 2014J.

Others quickly sorted through images taken of the galaxy M82 taken within the last week to see if they managed to capture it unknowingly! Currently at about +11.5 magnitude, you’ll need at least a 4-inch and larger telescope to see SN2014J. But it is not hard to see in these great images here, as the object is the only bright star shining in the galaxy. Of course, not all of us have access to equipment like the 32-inch telescope at the Mount Lemmon Sky Center, but Adam Block stayed up for most of the night and managed to capture this spectacular image of M82 and the supernova.

An image of M82 taken on January 19, 2014, before the official announcement of the discovery of the supernova. SN2014J is clearly visible. Credit and copyright: Sarah Hall & Colin Campbell. 

This is one example of astronomers looking back at recent images to see if they captured the supernova without knowing it. This one by Sarah Hall and Colin Campbell was taken on January 19, 2014 between 20:39 to 20:44 UTC with a Newtonian Telescope with prime focus DSLR observation, 8 inch aperture 1000mm focal length (f/5).

The buzz on Twitter has been that the supernova was so bright, that automated supernova search telescopes and programs missed it because it was too bright and they dismissed it as an anomaly.

One of the latest Astronomer Telegrams puts the star going supernova no earlier than January 11 and sometime prior to January 19, but they haven’t narrowed it down any further yet. I’m sure more images will surface to help pinpoint the time.

In the meantime, enjoy these other great shots:

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