One of These Days We See a Supernova

One of these days we see a supernova. It may seem more accurate to say "one of those nights, but a star exploded in our galaxy as a supernova so bright it could easily be seen in a blue sky during the day, eclipsing every star or planet in the sky at night .

We are long overdue. Supernovae are very rare, but astronomers say they should occur on average every few hundred years. The last time the galaxy of the Milky Way was in 1680.

A supernova is as bright - for a short time, the star exceeds all the stars in the galaxy. That of 1680 was not very bright as seen from Earth, but some supernova were particularly high in 1572 in Cassiopeia and the other in the year 1054 in the Taurus.

Several supernovae have been significant throughout history, but none in our own galaxy since the first days of the telescope! Much of what we know today about these cosmic catastrophes comes from observations of other galaxies.

distant galaxies are so distant that we can not separate the individual stars, although major professional observers have described poor galaxies nearest stars as the great Andromeda galaxy, which appears to the naked eye as a hazy patch.

While we wait for the next supernova in our galaxy home that dazzle our eyes, for both professional and amateur astronomers to the dark background, it is surprising to see a star in the spot light from a distant galaxy where no star had been seen before.

Some serious amateur astronomers hunt for them, methodical testing of galaxies in the eyepiece of the telescope or the photos they take, to see if something new has appeared.

The author is pleased to see two of these early 90's, after learning of them through the press. From a garden in White Mills, when using a telescope with a mirror of only 6 inches wide, could see the stars of recent creation, both easy to distinguish galaxies, M51 and M82.

All the reader with a small telescope can expand its horizons, much farther than ever would have expected - of millions of light years. Po 'patience and practice, and a good star map, learn the constellations, and then collect some of the brightest deep-sky wonders seen with binoculars, if not exclusive to the eyes. You can find the faint galaxy or other object, such as the star of a series that has drawn the graph, with attention "star hopping" around the bright star, and the shift to fainter stars in the vicinity. Imagination, you do not have a small picture of "constellations" in the eyepiece, perhaps a triangle, a line of stars or other geometric shape that allows you to move slowly across the sky position of the target.

In this way, they soon learn the relative positions of some galaxies or clusters of stars and can identify more easily next time. Once you are familiar with the appearance of a galaxy, which for the most part, in a small telescope it looks like a blurred oval or circle, you will know if the next time you look, something is wrong, and a new star appeared - perhaps a supernova.

Not all stars end up as a supernova. There are more of a genre, but a classic supernova is the result of a massive star that collapsed under its own weight. stellar material hits the nucleus of neutrons and rebounds. In a second type that explodes near a white dwarf star when enough material orbiting another star who falls into it.

Other stars that appear suddenly, but did not explode as supernovae, are one of several classes of variable stars, up and down the production, either for a period of days or years or centuries. Time for a new bulb?

Only a few stars, depending on their mass and makeup is designed to explode when they do, they leave a fuzzy shell of gas, many of which are observable in the instruments backyard. Probably the most famous being the Crab Nebula, M1, in the constellation Taurus, which is the result of a supernova in the 1054th year Some think he looks like a crab, but in a small telescope it looks more like boot Baby. With all our scientific cold, thank God for the imagination!

New Moon Sunday, April 3.