Monday, August 29, 2011


10,000 years ago, a star exploded and released as much energy as it produced in it's entire lifetime. For 9,500 years after, the the star continued to shine normally to Earth, until in 1572, astronomers saw it explode.

Composite X-ray image of SN1572, Tycho's Nova, remnant (NASA)

I think this image of the remaining nebula, taken with NASA's Spitzer, Chandra space observatories, and the Calar Alto observatory in Spain, is just beautiful. I can almost hear the distant crackle and pop, like watching an explosion on distant mountain

This was also one of the last supernovae to be observed in our own galaxy, the last being just 32 years later, in 1604. Supernova are thought to occur at least every 100 years or so in galaxies like our own, and so we are long overdue to observe one in our night sky. Although, considering our galaxy is 100,000 lightyears across, it's probable that the event has already occurred. And I thought I had to wait a long time to watch the latest episodes of Doctor Who here in New Zealand.

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