The past few days have been quite exciting for scientist and astronomers world wide due to a very bright super nova appearing in the galaxy M82. While a super nova appearing is not a rare event, one happening in a galaxy as close as M82 is quite the rarity indeed.
M82 is just 12 million light years away making this one of the closest nova events recorded by modern science. Furthermore, this event is quite special for amateur astronomers as well as causal star gazers as the super nova is bright enough for viewing with binoculars and is quite spectacular in even the most modest amateur telescopes. The super nova is expected to brighten to about the 8th magnitude which would last for a few days.
In the image above you can see the super nova appear in the bottom image. Nothing is known about the star that exploded, but one thing is for sure... anything orbiting the star pre-nova was vaporized in the blink of an eye. With the galaxy being roughly 12 million light-years away, the star actually went super nova about 12 million years ago, and we are just now begging to see the photons emitted from the explosion. Some scientist say that with a super nova this close, we could even see neutrinos from the event making their way to Earth.
Astronomers say that the super nova was of the Ia type, a dwarf explosion where a red giant star collapses and turns into a white dwarf before getting so dense and hot that it explodes and creates the bright flash of light we are now seeing. The Galaxy the super nova occurred in, M82, is actually a hot region for star formation which means that this was one of the oldest stars in the region. You can find M82 in the constellation of Ursa Major.