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Astronomers: want to watch a supernova?
February 24, 2006 2:30 AM   Subscribe

Odd Supernova Amateur and professional astronomers rejoice , point your telescopes at RA: 03:21:39.71 Dec: +16:52:02.6 to watch a new phenomenon that could turn into a supernova explosion
posted by elpapacito (17 comments total)

 
And there's a gamma ray burst blog post as well
posted by elpapacito at 2:43 AM on February 24, 2006


That blog post says it has a V magnitude of about 18. Now I've done very little amateur level astronomy, but isn't that a touch too faint to be observable by most amateurs?
posted by edd at 2:58 AM on February 24, 2006


(although I suppose it is supposed to be getting brighter if it is a supernova)
posted by edd at 3:02 AM on February 24, 2006


Just read another article. Sounds like it won't be visible to the naked eye.

Meh. Got all excited, too.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:25 AM on February 24, 2006


It'll probably be more dramatic once the gamma ray blast engulfs the Earth...
posted by fairmettle at 4:48 AM on February 24, 2006


For an object with a magnitude of 18, you'll need at least a 14" mirror (if you're going the Schmidt-Cassegrain-route). Just FYI.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:09 AM on February 24, 2006


It'll probably be more dramatic once the gamma ray blast engulfs the Earth...

Since we have detected the gamma ray blast that means that it has already 'engulfed' the Earth. If you were making a joke, it completely went by me since it is really late for me and I must get some sleep.
posted by Phantomx at 5:36 AM on February 24, 2006


This statement makes no sense.

Italian researchers using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile found signs in the event's optical afterglow that it may become a supernova. The scenario outlined by some researchers is that a very massive star has collapsed into a black hole and then exploded.

Has collapsed? Then the supernova has already happened -- the time between the core collapse and the neutrino flux is seconds, and visible effects are apparent within hours.

If it is a impending supernova, we might see the actual core collapse via the neutrino flux. We saw a notable spike in neutrinos in 1987, when Supernova 1987A exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, some 130Mly away. 440Mly is obviously much further, but neutrino detectors are both more numerous and more sensitive now. The interesting thing is SN1987A proves that we have the ability to detect extragalatic supernovae by neutrinos, as our detectors improve, so does the distance we can do so -- and, should there be a supernova in our own galaxy, we'd certainly see the neutrino flux -- even if the actual event wasn't visible (by being on the other side of the galaxy, hidden by the core.)

The real tell of a nearby supernova will be the neutrino flux -- because of the very low mass interaction rate of a neutrino, they're the first particles that escape after the core collapse. Now, many astronomers are signed up to SNEWS, the SuperNova Early Warning System. Neutrino Observatories send unusual events (typically, sudden bursts of neutrinos, well above the background rate) to SNEWS, if they see reports from multiple observatories at the same time, they alert astronomers that a supernova core collapse may have just happened.
posted by eriko at 5:51 AM on February 24, 2006


It is a sign.

The elder gods come.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:31 AM on February 24, 2006


eriko: Has collapsed? Then the supernova has already happened -- the time between the core collapse and the neutrino flux is seconds, and visible effects are apparent within hours.

Visible within hours plus 440 million years. The star exploded a long, long time ago.
posted by dsword at 7:19 AM on February 24, 2006


The LMC is around 170,000 light years away, not 150 million. (It is actually a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.) SN1987A was visible to the naked eye because it was so close.

No, 18th magnitude is really not within the range of amateur instruments.
posted by AstroGuy at 7:54 AM on February 24, 2006


Call me when a real star blows up. Like Elizabeth Taylor. Now SHE was a star.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:12 AM on February 24, 2006


Well, goodbye Alderaan.
posted by palinode at 9:52 AM on February 24, 2006


God squeezes a pimple.
posted by furtive at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2006


This would have been really useful to know 170,000 years ago. Thanks.
posted by iamck at 10:58 AM on February 24, 2006


More info at Sky & Telescope including observation tips and links to the coordinated amateur observation campaign. This is pretty interesting!
posted by bystander at 2:40 AM on February 25, 2006


That reminds me - I gotta pick up some frankincense.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2006


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