Supernova in M82 by tommorules ()
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I was very fortunate to have been trying to image one of our galactic neighbours earlier in January, shortly before a significant cosmic event. I managed therefore to get this before & after shot. Not, I have to say of the highest quality, but still quite satisfying - telescope was out-of focus for the second image dammit!!
Google the image title and you'll find lots of coverage of this exploding star in the press.
M82 is also known as the Cigar Galaxy - because of its shape, and is 12 million light years away. So this massive event happened 12 million years ago, and we are only witnessing it now. You were a chimpanzee back then, and I was an orangutan :)
Given that all the stars you see above you are in our own galaxy, this gives you some idea how bright the supernova really is, I mean... was. i feel very sorry for its galactic neighbours...
Scientists believe that, while a few chemical elements were made during the "big-bang" at the start of the universe, this event wasn't hot enough to create many of the heavier elements, a lot of which are present in the human body. Only the heat generated by an exploding star is fierce enough to create these heavy elements.
In other words, without supernovae, human life on earth would not exist... and we are all made, at least in part, of star-stuff.
Thanks for looking!
Image Comments (24)
Extraordinary luck indeed, it’s not everyone that gets a once in a life time opportunity like this. Despite the not too badly blurry image on Jan 25th , I would be dancing a little jig in celebration of this awesome capture. Congratulations, if I may ask, what type, size and make of instrument were you using for this exposure?
Great bit of science here and I instantly realized what a lucky bloke you had been for having taken a shot of the galaxy just a few weeks before the big event. Too bad about the focus but still a thrill to have captured it. One minor point, 12 million years ago I was actually an ancestor to a chimp but not yet a chimp :-)