« Waaaaaall-E | Main | Swedish indie pop night at Bimbo's »

Supernova caught for the first time

Typically, we only notice supernovae hours or days after they happen in the visible spectrum, and we can then point our telescopes at them. When they first explode, they emit a lot of x-rays, but x-ray telescopes tend to have small fields of view, so we never catch anything. This January, Alicia Soderberg at Princeton was looking at a month-old supernova with an x-ray telescope when she happened to notice an x-ray burst nearby: another supernova! The burst was only about 5 minutes long, but she immediately called up lots of other people to aim their telescopes there, and so a ton of people got to observe a supernova sooner than ever before. Bad Astronomy Blog has a great writeup. I'm stealing this image from him:

sn2008d_uv_xray.jpg

The top row is in the UV spectrum and the bottom is in x-ray. The crazy thing that some of the news articles mess up on is that the two rows show the same field of view. That's how bright the x-ray burst was. Crazy, no?

Oh, and I wasn't kidding about a lot of people getting in on the action of gawking at this supernova. Check out how many coauthors are listed at the Nature abstract. :) Update: My physicist friend corrects me: "Dude, that's a tiny group by particle physics standards." :P

Post a comment

LEAVE THIS FIELD BLANK. IT IS HERE TO TRAP ROBOTS.

LEAVE THIS FIELD BLANK. IT IS HERE TO TRAP ROBOTS.

LEAVE THIS FIELD BLANK. IT IS HERE TO TRAP ROBOTS.

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 21, 2008.

The previous post in this blog was Waaaaaall-E.

The next post in this blog is Swedish indie pop night at Bimbo's.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.3