Latest Issue of Science News

cover 3/7

News

Enormous cosmic lens magnifies supernova

Galaxy warps light of distant exploding star, greatly increasing its brightness

By
4:58pm, January 10, 2014

BRIGHT LIGHT  The distant supernova PS1-10afx appeared 30 times as bright as it actually was because of the magnifying effect of a massive galaxy between it and Earth, as this illustration demonstrates.

OXON HILL, Md. — An immense cosmic magnifying glass has given astronomers an unprecedented view of a distant exploding star. The discovery demonstrates that astronomers can spot supernovas that are seemingly too far away to be detected.

The supernova PS1-10afx, located more than 9 billion light-years away, first appeared in 2010 images from the Pan-STARRS1 sky survey. It shined about 30 times as brightly as a typical supernova at that distance. Last April, a team including astronomer Robert Kirshner from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics published a study that classified PS1-10afx as a new type of ultrabright supernova.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More from this issue of Science News