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Scientists witness supernova explosion in nearby galaxy (Photo)

Supernova explosion in galaxy M82, before and after
UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright

A supernova recently exploded in a neighboring galaxy and was caught on camera by the University of London Observatory, according to a Jan. 22 report in Huffington Post UK. This supernova is the closest ever recorded to Earth, and its brightness had only been matched by two past supernovae explosions in 1993 and 1987.

The galaxy is classified as M82, also known as the Cigar or Starburst Galaxy, states Universe Today. The galaxy is located in Ursa Major, a mere 12 million light years away from our home planet, Earth. M82 is also the location of two other supernovae explosions that occurred in the years 2004 and 2008.

This supernova explosion is classified a type Ia, pronounced “one-a”, which is a circumstance when a dense white dwarf about the size of the earth that feeds from a neighboring star until its mass reaches 1.4 times more than the mass of our sun. Then, the star collapses and explodes because of a thermonuclear reaction.

According to the University of London’s website, the supernova has not been named yet, but it is believed to be called SN 2014I when the International Astronomical Union announces the discovery officially.

M82 cannot be seen without the use of at least a 4 inch telescope or binoculars. People looking for the astronomical event should not get M82’s neighboring galaxy, M81, confused. The easiest way to tell them apart is M81 has a bright center and M82 appears like a stretched ellipsis.

Why is this new #supernova in M82 exciting? Closest since 1987. Type we use to study dark energy. Binocular-visible. Might get neutrinos,” tweeted astronomer Katie Mack, or @astrokatie.

Here is a link to an animation that shows the before and after pictures of the supernova explosion in M82.

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