Scientists spot brightest supernova ever, mysteries remain

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Astronomers have discovered the brightest star explosion ever, a super supernova that easily outshines our entire Milky Way.

See Full Article

An international team revealed "the most powerful supernova observed in human history" Thursday in the latest Science journal. The astronomers used a network of telescopes around the world to spot the record-breaking supernova last year.

Super luminous supernovas -- extra bright stellar explosions -- are believed to be rare. The newly discovered supernova is especially rare: It is more than twice as luminous as any supernova observed to date, including the previous record-holders.

At its peak intensity, it is believed to be 20 times more luminous than the entire Milky Way. Some estimates put it at 50 times brighter.

And try this statistic on for size: It is 570 billion times brighter at its peak than our sun.

Lead author Subo Dong of China's Peking University said when he learned the magnitude of the discovery last summer, he was "too excited to sleep the rest of the night." Fellow researcher Benjamin Shappee of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena, California, didn't believe the results at first, which seemed "surreal."

"Discoveries like this are the reason I am an astronomer," Shappee said in an email. "Nature is extremely clever and it is often more imaginative than we can be."

Labeled ASASSN-15lh for the All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae and pronounced "assassin," the mega blast is located in a galaxy perhaps 3.8 billion light-years away. The precise galaxy is unknown. There are other puzzles as well.

"The explosion's mechanism and power source remain shrouded in mystery because all known theories meet serious challenges in explaining the immense amount of energy ASASSN-15lh has radiated," Dong said in a statement.

The next step for scientists is to figure out its incredible power source. Other super supernovas, like this one, could be out there. More observatories are on the case, including some NASA spacecraft. The Hubble Space Telescope will be pressed into service this year as well.

Dong said ASASSN-15lh "may lead to new thinking and new observations of the whole class of super luminous supernova."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Two newest astronauts moonstruck as Canada looks beyond space station

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Canada's two newest astronauts are already looking beyond the International Space Station as they begin two years of intense basic training. Joshua Kutryk points out that Canada is committed to the space station until 2024 along with its international partners. Source
  • Farming has changed climate almost as much as deforestation

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Agriculture has contributed nearly as much to climate change as deforestation by intensifying global warming, according to U.S. research that has quantified the amount of carbon taken from the soil by farming. Some 121 billion tonnes (133 billion tons) of carbon have been removed from the top two metres of the earth's soil over the last two centuries by agriculture at a rate that is increasing, said the study in PNAS, a journal published by the National Academy of Sciences. Source
  • Water down your whisky for better flavour: scientists

    Tech & Science CBC News
    On the rocks, neat, or with water? Ask whisky fans and you'll find it's a contentious topic. However, researchers in Sweden say mixing your scotch with water is the best way to maximize the flavours. Source
  • Parents warned to monitor teen use of app Sarahah

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WINNIPEG - The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is warning parents of the dangers of an app popular with teens called Sarahah. The app allows users to send anonymous "constructive criticism" to friends and co-workers, but critics say it has turned into a platform for cyberbullying and harassment. Source
  • Canada's new astronauts take tips from veterans in space

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Canada's two new astronaut recruits will get a chance to pick the brains of the experienced astronauts currently working aboard the space station today. They'll also speak publicly for the last time before heading for two years of intensive basic training at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Source
  • Google's next version of Android will be called 'Oreo'

    Tech & Science CBC News
    An upcoming update to Google's Android software finally has a delectable name. The next version will be known as Oreo, extending Google's tradition of naming each version after a sweet treat. L’ready or not, you’ve made it to the sweet treat hall of fame. Source
  • After Lollipop. Marshmallow and Nougat, here comes Oreo

    Tech & Science CBC News
    An upcoming update to Google's Android software finally has a delectable name. The next version will be known as Oreo, extending Google's tradition of naming each version after a sweet treat. L’ready or not, you’ve made it to the sweet treat hall of fame. Source
  • Victoria tech company hopes to entice new talent with five-hour work days

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A Victoria technology company has switched to five-hour work days in an effort to attract new employees. A boom in the tech industry has meant that companies have had to offer more than a unique workplace and cutting edge perks to draw in potential new talent. Source
  • Iran says Twitter ready to talk on unblocking site: report

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's new telecommunications minister says Twitter is ready to talk about unblocking access to the microblogging site. The state-owned IRAN newspaper quoted Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi on Tuesday as saying Twitter has "officially announced readiness to talk with Iran for resolving the problems. Source
  • Rain, clouds don't dampen eclipse excitement in Missouri

    Tech & Science CBC News
    People from all over the world converged Monday on St. Joseph, Mo., a town nestled along the Missouri River just north of Kansas City, to watch an event that many said comes once in a lifetime: a total solar eclipse. Source