Astronomers snap a pic of a spiral galaxy that hosted two supernova explosions

Aug 2, 2012

Astronomers have snapped a photograph of a beautiful spiral galaxy that has hosted two supernova explosions over the last 30 years. The image was taken using the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope located in the Chilean high desert. The image marks the most detailed ever captured of the impressive spiral galaxy.

The official name of the galaxy is NGC 1187, and it's a distant 60 million light years away from Earth. The galaxy is located in the constellation Eridanus and is notable for having two supernova explosions since 1982. The last supernova explosion occurred in 2007. A supernova occurs when a star reaches the end of its life, and the resulting explosion is one of the most energetic events in the entire universe.

When a supernova explodes, it's likely to briefly outshine entire galaxies before fading away over several weeks or several months. One very impressive fact about supernova is that scientists say the energy radiated during a supernova explosion is comparable to the amount of energy the sun will emit over the entire course of its life. The first supernova detected within the galaxy NGC 1187 was dubbed SN 1982R and was detected in October of 1982.

The 1982 supernova was discovered using the ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile. The second supernova within the galaxy was called SN 2007Y and was discovered by an amateur astronomer from South Africa in 2007. The image you see above was created from observations taken during the year-long study of the 2007 supernova. ESO officials say that the 2007 supernova can be seen, long after the period of maximum brightness, near the bottom of the image above.

[via CSMonitor]

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