Friday, April 1, 2016

Discovery of supernova

In the year 1054, Chinese astronomers saw a ‘guest star’ appear in the constellation known as Taurus the Bull.

The star quickly became so bright it was visible in the daytime for a month and then took nearly two years to fade from sight.

At the site of that ancient supernova, modern telescope revel a many-legged nebula known as the Crab Nebula. In fact, the legs of the Crab Nebula are filaments of gas that are moving away from the site of the explosion at about 1400 km/s.

The Chinese were not the only ones who might have recorded the guest star of 1054. In 1054, native American records consisting of a rock carving in what is now Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, welcomed a bright star in Taurus with a waning crescent Moon right next to it.

Only a few supernova have been visible to the naked eye, Arab astronomers saw one in the year 1006, and the Chinese saw one in 1054, Tycho’s supernova appeared in 1572 and Kepler’s supernova in 1604.

The new star which appeared in the autumn of 1604 was discovered in Europe on 9 October 1604, and first noticed only a day later in China and by Korean astronomers on 13 October.

The supernova, which remained visible for a whole year, was extensively observed by European astronomers, including Johannes Kepler and this supernova is often referred to as Kepler’s SN.

Since the invention of the telescope in 1609, no one had seen a bright supernova until 1987 when astronomers in Chile spotted a naked eye supernova brightening in the southern sky. It was in the early morning hours of February 21, 1987, astronomers around the world were startled by the discovery of a naked eye supernova still growing brighter in the southern sky.

The supernova, known officially as SN1987A, is 53,000 pc away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy to Milky Way Galaxy.
Discovery of supernova
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