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Archive for Thursday, May 15, 2008

Astronomers announce supernova discovery

May 15, 2008

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— Astronomers have discovered the youngest known supernova in the Milky Way galaxy, still just a baby at 140 years old. The scientists, who announced their findings Wednesday in Cape Canaveral, used a radio observatory in New Mexico and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in space to identify when the supernova, or stellar, explosion occurred. They put the star-dying event at sometime around 1868.

Before this, the youngest supernova in the Milky Way was thought to have occurred around 1680.

A supernova is the catastrophic explosion of a star that releases an extraordinary amount of energy, enough to outshine an entire galaxy.

This new baby supernova is located near the center of the galaxy and obscured by dense gas and dust, making it virtually impossible to see in optical light.

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