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.