Your Last Chance at a Good View of the 'Supernova of a Generation' [VIDEOS]

Michael Santo's picture

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 M├ęchain 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

Add new comment