Monday, August 29, 2011

New supernova is closest one to Earth in 25 years

Astronomy buffs, hold onto your telescopes. Scientists have discovered a new supernova, or exploding star, in the Pinwheel Galaxy. And, in a few weeks, you might be able to see it for yourself with nothing but a good pair of binoculars. Astronomers are especially excited about this newly discovered supernova -- although it's been given the decidedly unjazzy name SN 2011fe -- because it's a mere 21 million light-years away. In the language of astronomy, that puts it right in our backyard. Peter Nugent, the senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who originally spotted the exploding star, told the Los Angeles Times it has been 25 years since a supernova has occurred so close to Earth and that the last one was visible only in the southern hemisphere. More>