Sunday, June 5, 2011

Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away - a star blew up.

Finally, a decent night for some imaging!  Stability of the sky could have been better, the twinkling of the stars may be pretty for some people, but lousy for astronomy.  But I have to take what I can this year with the screwed up La Nina stuff we have been dealing with.
So, here is a thought for the day to think about and make that little corner of your brain go "ping!".  Approximately 37 million years ago, this star blew up in the M51 galaxy.  We finally found out just 2 days ago this happened. 
  • Scope: Meade LX200 Classic 12 inch with f/6.3 reducer.
  • Camera: Canon 350D (with IR mod) and CLS filter
  • Exposures: 11 between 5 and 8 minutes
  • ISO: 800
  • Guiding: Orion 80ED piggyback 
(Click photo for full size)


Dave said...

Here's a naive question from a non-astronomer (me):

Is it true that the supernova is the only "single" star in that galaxy that is resolved to a dot, with all other bright dots in the image being stars within our own Milky Way galaxy that are "in front of" the distant spiral?

Tom said...

Right. At least with most ground-based scopes, that is the only star in a galaxy (far away ones) that you'll ever be able to make out. Even then it's probably just a lot of glare from the brightness. The stars in the image that do show are all in our galaxy.
Hubble has been able to pull out individual stars in galaxies though. Here is the last supernova in the same galaxy from a few years ago. Hubble found it before it blew up -