Amateur Astronomer Snaps Supernova While Testing New Camera

23 February, 2018, 04:31 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • Amateur astronomer captures a supernova's 1st light

The supernova 2016gkg was shortly focused by other telescopes and observatories after the astronomers reported it.

The images were of the spiral galaxy NGC 613 located 80m light years from Earth, and showed the before and after the supernova's "shock breakout". Buso and a team of professional astronomers now report in Nature what seems to be the first observation of the very early stages of a supernova. As it turned out, his series of photos provided professional astronomers with one of the first views ever of the initial burst of light from a supernova - in this case, in the distant galaxy NGC 613 - before and after the critical period known as supernova's shock breakout. During the initial stage, the bright spot had not there but as he moved toward later images he detected the bright spot.

As for the amateur Buso's remarkable observation, Gaston Folatelli, who also helped the lead work with Bersten, at the Instituto de Astrofísica de La Plata, said: "Victor was really very lucky - can not deny that - but also he had enough expertise to be able to see the object and to realize that this was possible".

"I chose the galaxy by chance but, among those in that region of the sky, it has a lovely form with looping clouds-bright and dark", he told Newsweek, adding that he was aware supernovas were more likely to appear in spiral galaxies.

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Dr Bersten contacted an global group of astronomers to help conduct additional frequent observations of SN 2016gkg.

The discovery and results of follow-up observations from around the world will be published in the February 22, 2018 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Filipenko's team used the Lick Observatory in California and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii to examine the spectra of light given off by the explosion, and was able to determine that the event could be classed as a Type IIb supernova. Stars have charges and elements along with the colossal amount of energy stored in it.

A supernova is when a massive star reaches the end of its life and undergoes a spectacular explosion in death. The images of the exploding star are presented above in negative, as captured. It was only theorized and now, the study has proven the existence of this process.

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Soon, Buso was showing off his pictures to astronomer Melina Bersten of the Astrofísica de La Plata in Argentina, and scientists were clamoring to analyze his discovery in order to learn more about the moments immediately before and after a supernova bursts into flame. He further that Buso chooses a place that is humid and low flatland which is not an ideal place to conduct such experiments and said, Buso was lucky to witness such a phenomenon up close.

"It's like winning the cosmic lottery", UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko said.

The supernova named SN 2016gkg was first discovered in 20 September 2016 by Buso who is also the co-author of this new study.

Supernovas can be separated into two types. That was a little surprising, Bersten explained, because when a solo star goes supernova it's more often something like a red supergiant (a cooler, inflated star) or a more blue-toned variable star (a hotter, denser star). The supernova's light curve may be able to reveal more about the material surrounding the star, which could help provide more insight into how stars in binary pairs pull mass off of each other - and how this relationship might affect a star's evolution.

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