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Massive supernova visible from Earth

Massive supernova.

LONDON (PTI): The nearest supernova of its type to be discovered for 40 years is predicted to be at its brightest and will be visible through a good pair of binoculars across Britain this week.

The supernova, which was first spotted on 24 August by scientists from Oxford University and the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) collaboration, is in the Pinwheel galaxy, M101.

Whilst not visible to the naked eye, with a clear sky anyone can observe the supernova using a good pair of binoculars or a small telescope. The celestial object was predicted to be at its brightest Thursday, a university release said.

To find M101, look for the formation known as ‘The Plough’ or ‘Big Dipper’, trace from the end of the 'handle' of 'The Plough' and find the second star along, Mirza, and M101 lies four degrees to the East.

Observers will see a bright star at the edge of one of M101’s spiral arms, the release said.

“The best view of this exploding star is likely to be this Wednesday or Thursday. Look for it just after evening twilight near the 'handle' of 'The Plough',” said Dr Mark Sullivan of Oxford University's Department of Physics, who led the Oxford team.

“Whilst it looks more or less like just another bright star, unlike its companions this supernova will soon fade away, and after a few days it will only be visible with larger telescopes,” he added.

The discovery of the supernova is particularly important because it is a type 1a supernova, the kind used by scientists to measure the expansion of Universe.


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