Friday, January 15, 2016

Mystery Celestial Explosion More Powerful Than Typical Supernova


The bright spot in the lower left is Supernova SN 1994D, which is a Type 1a
supernova in the Galaxy NGC 4526. A recently discovered celestial explosion,
which may be a supernova, is about 200 times more powerful than a typical
supernova.
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.org , "SN1994D" by NASA/ESA. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SN1994D.jpg#/media/File:SN1994D.jpg )

By Nell Greenfieldboyce, National Public Radio

A mind-boggling stellar explosion is baffling astronomers, who say this cosmic beast is so immensely powerful that no one's sure exactly what made it go boom.

The recently discovered inferno is about 200 times more powerful than a typical exploding star, or supernova, and 570 billion times brighter than our sun. It was first spotted in June by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, nicknamed the "Assassin" project, so it's called ASASSN-15lh.

Astronomers describe their finding in a study published Thursday in the journal Science. 

Even though it's the brightest supernova on record — if indeed it is a supernova — it can't be seen with the naked eye from Earth, since it is 3.8 billion light-years away.

Even telescopes don't help much. "It looks like a little smudge," says Subo Dong, an astronomer at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University. "This is because it's so far away. It doesn't look so spectacular."

And if you could get into a spaceship and fly closer, you wouldn't want to, says astronomer Ben Shappee, at the Carnegie Observatories. That's because this monster puts out a lot of ultraviolet radiation, so if you actually got close enough to get a good look, "you would be dead right away," he points out.

More - Link >>> http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/14/462710274/record-busting-star-explosion-baffles-sky-watchers

Science Magazine on-line article regarding ASAS-SN-15lh:
Link >>> http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/universe-s-most-luminous-supernova-was-50-times-brighter-milky-way

More on Supernovae: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova

Source: National Public Radio: "All Things Considered."
              2016 January 15.

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        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
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