M82 Supernova

A supernova is discovered in M82, by accident. Click for larger. Image via University of London

This is awesome! Imagine it, a demonstration to undergrads at the University of London leads to a discovery of a supernova – talk about luck!

Before we go to far M82 is:

  • Located in Ursa Major (aka: The Big Dipper)
  • Magnitude: 8.4 (easily visible with binoculars of better)
  • Distace (about): 3.5 Mega-parsecs / 12 Million light-years

Get more information about M82 at SEDS.

From the University of London:

Students and staff at UCL’s teaching observatory, the University of London Observatory, have spotted one of the closest supernovae to Earth in recent decades. At 19:20 GMT on 21 January, a team of students — Ben Cooke, Tom Wright, Matthew Wilde and Guy Pollack — assisted by Dr. Steve Fossey, spotted the exploding star in nearby galaxy Messier 82 (the Cigar Galaxy).

The discovery was a fluke — a 10 minute telescope workshop for undergraduate students that led to a global scramble to acquire confirming images and spectra of a supernova in one of the most unusual and interesting of our near-neighbor galaxies.

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