If you haven't yet watched supernova PTF 11kly, which scientist are calling the brightest in a generation, you've still got a chance: the exploding star will reach its brightest display on September 8.
Scientists were reminding folks during the Labor Day weekend that it was a good time to watch the supernova. The supernova is located in the Pinwheel Galaxy some 21 million light-years away, and was discovered by a team of astronomers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley.
Even binoculars will enable a casual backyard viewer to see the star.
As described by Wikipedia, "a supernova is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. It has the plural supernovae or supernovas. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. During this short interval a supernova can radiate as much energy as the [our] Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span. The explosion expels much or all of a star's material at a velocity of up to 30,000 km/s (10 percent of the speed of light), driving a shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium. This shock wave sweeps up an expanding shell of gas and dust called a supernova remnant."
Its home, the Pinwheel Galaxy, is described as follows: "The Pinwheel Galaxy (also known as Messier 101 or NGC 5457) is a face-on spiral galaxy distanced 21 million light-years (six megaparsecs) away in the constellation Ursa Major, first discovered by Pierre Méchain on March 27, 1781, and communicated to Charles Messier who verified its position for inclusion in the Messier Catalogue as one of its final entries."
Watch a video from Peter Nugent, an astrophysicist from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, first person to observe the supernova below. Nugent explains how to best watch the supernova.
You can see a video of captured footage of what the supernova looked like from Earth this weekend:
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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