Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Closest Supernova in 25 Years Is a 'Cosmic Classic'

Astronomers have spotted the closest supernova in a generation — and in a week or so, stargazers with a good pair of binoculars might be able to see it, too.

The supernova, or exploded star, flared up Tuesday night (Aug. 23) in the Pinwheel Galaxy, just 21 million light-years from Earth.

It's the closest star explosion of its type observed since 1986, and astronomers around the world are already scrambling to train their instruments on it.

Researchers said they think they caught the supernova, named PTF 11kly, within hours of its explosion. [Photo of the new supernova PTF 11kly]

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