Catching Supernova in the Act

The earliest detection ever of a Type Ia supernova has led to unparalleled observations of the initial stages of the stellar explosion and characterization of the nature of the stars that formed it.

On Aug. 24, 2011, astronomers discovered a nearby Type Ia supernova–the earliest detection ever–with help from a machine-based, real-time, classification system. The early detection and close proximity of the stars set the stage for unprecedented observation of the initial stages of a Type Ia supernova. The December 15 issue of the journal Nature published two articles describing the exploding star and details about the companion star.

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