Today NASA announced that they’ve discovered a recent supernova – recent in geological terms (140 years ago). I do know that a “Supernova” is the term when a star explodes, but apart from that I’m not even going to pretend I know anything about interstellar physics. So let’s let the professionals discuss this one, shall we?
The supernova explosion occurred about 140 years ago, making it the most recent in the Milky Way. Previously, the last known supernova in our galaxy occurred around 1680, an estimate based on the expansion of its remnant, Cassiopeia A.
Finding such a recent, obscured supernova is a first step in making a better estimate of how often the stellar explosions occur. This is important because supernovae heat and redistribute large amounts of gas, and pump heavy elements out into their surroundings. They can trigger the formation of new stars as part of a cycle of stellar death and rebirth. The explosion also can leave behind, in addition to the expanding remnant, a central neutron star or black hole.
Sweet! You see, they did a much better job of explaining that than I. I could discuss how badass John Squire‘s guest lead guitar playing was in Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova,” but that’s as close as I would get. I say let the techies and Trekkies handle this one:
From Wired News:
Scientists using a combination of radio and X-rays have found the most recent supernova remnant observed in our galaxy, located about 26,000 light-years from here. It’s the youngest, most energetic supernova we know and could shed light on just exactly how the stardust we’re made of — heavier elements and all — gets created. The finding also lends some support to astronomers’ calculations that there should be about three supernovae in our galaxy per century, although they still need to find dozens more similar supernova remnants to confirm their suspicions.
Here’s a video of a famous supernova.