Amateur astronomer spots supernova in nearby galaxy

galaxy M61

Koichi Itagaki noticed the exploding star as a brilliant point of light in the spiral galaxy M61.

Ernesto Guido, Martino Nicolini and Nick Howes

Guest post by Christopher Crockett

An amateur astronomer has detected an exploding star in a bright, nearby galaxy. Koichi Itagaki, who has found over 80 such supernovas, noticed the exploding star as a brilliant point of light in the spiral galaxy M61, which sits a mere 55 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo.

Supernovas come in two flavors: the violent destruction of a very massive star or a thermonuclear eruption on the surface of an exposed stellar core. The explosions are rare, so finding one within our galactic neighborhood gives researchers a unique chance to study them up close.

Two images taken six years apart highlight the new supernova discovered in the galaxy M61. Ernesto Guido, Martino Nicolini and Nick Howes
The supernova appears as the bright spot within the red lines. Ernesto Guido, Martino Nicolini and Nick Howes

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