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  • Science Visualized

    Observers caught these stars going supernova

    In A.D. 185, Chinese records note the appearance of a “guest star” that then faded away over the span of several months. In 1572, astronomer Tycho Brahe and many others watched as a previously unknown star in the constellation Cassiopeia blasted out gobs of light and then eventually disappeared. And 30 years ago, the world witnessed a similar blaze of light from a small galaxy that orbits the...

    02/08/2017 - 11:47 Astronomy
  • Feature

    When a nearby star goes supernova, scientists will be ready

    Almost every night that the constellation Orion is visible, physicist Mark Vagins steps outside to peer at a reddish star at the right shoulder of the mythical figure. “You can see the color of Betelgeuse with the naked eye. It’s very striking, this red, red star,” he says. “It may not be in my lifetime, but one of these days, that star is going to explode.”

    With a radius about 900 times...

    02/08/2017 - 08:00 Astronomy, Physics
  • Feature

    30 years later, supernova 1987A is still sharing secrets

    View the video

    Ian Shelton was alone at a telescope in the remote Atacama Desert of Chile. After three hours getting a picture of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a wispy galaxy that orbits the Milky Way, he was plunged into darkness. High winds had taken hold of the rolltop door in the observatory’s roof, slamming it shut.

    “This was maybe telling me I should just call it a night,” says...

    02/08/2017 - 08:00 Astronomy
  • News

    Supernova is a dust factory

    OXON HILL, Md. — The remnant of a recent supernova contains nearly a star’s mass of dust. The dust’s presence provides strong evidence that similar explosions distributed dust that seeded bursts of star formation billions of years ago.

    For astronomers, dust is a bit different from the stuff on your dresser. Dust forms in space when searing-hot atoms of carbon, oxygen and silicon cool and...

    01/07/2014 - 17:23 Astronomy
  • News

    A supernova's shocking development

    Thirteen years ago, astronomers witnessed the brightest stellar explosion seen from Earth since the invention of the telescope. A supernova—the violent death of a massive star—had erupted in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, only 160,000 light-years away. Because of the galaxy's proximity, scientists have had a field day tracking the unfolding saga of supernova 1987A.


    11/22/2002 - 17:34 Astronomy
  • News

    Super fireworks

    Thirteen years ago, astronomers witnessed the brightest stellar explosion seen from Earth since 1604. Now, they're seeing fireworks generated as material from that explosion rams into and heats up a ring of gas surrounding the exploding star.

    The spectacle, 169,000 light-years away in a galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud, may shed light on the nature of the original...

    09/09/2002 - 17:20 Astronomy
  • News

    Depression Gets Doleful Diagnosis

    02/14/1998 - 00:00
  • News


    01/26/1991 - 00:00
  • Feature

    Pulsar Mystery Ends: The TV Camera Did It

    02/24/1990 - 00:00
  • News


    07/01/1989 - 00:00