Ernest Guido, Nick Howes, Martino Nicolini/iTelescope, New Mexico
The galaxy M82 has given off a brilliant flash, which astronomers have confirmed as a type Ia supernova.
M82, or the Cigar galaxy, is 12 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major. Because the galaxy is relatively close and the stellar explosion was spotted quickly, follow-up observations may help astronomers better understand the characteristics of type Ia supernovas.
Astronomers use this type of stellar explosion to measure the distance to galaxies much farther away and to track the accelerating expansion of the universe.