Star goes boom, telescopes zoom

Supernova in nearby Pinwheel Galaxy excites astronomers

By Nadia Drake, 15:10 PM August 30, 2011

Many people appreciate a good light show, but probably not as much as the astronomers who recently spied a rare cosmological treat.

On August 24, telescopes at the Palomar Observatory in southern California captured a white dwarf star just 21 million light-years away — the next state over, astronomically — as it went supernova, exploding in a blaze of light. Scientists involved in the Palomar Transient Factory sky survey raced to record the detonation’s early death throes.

“We think we f...

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