News | International
2 Jul 2020 17:24
NZCity News
NZCity CalculatorReturn to NZCity

  • Start Page
  • Personalise
  • Sport
  • Weather
  • Finance
  • Shopping
  • Jobs
  • Horoscopes
  • Lotto Results
  • Photo Gallery
  • Site Gallery
  • TVNow
  • Dating
  • SearchNZ
  • NZSearch
  • Crime.co.nz
  • RugbyLeague
  • Make Home
  • About NZCity
  • Contact NZCity
  • Your Privacy
  • Advertising
  • Login
  • Join for Free

  •   Home > News > International

    Supernova 1994D: The image that captures the beauty of a powerful moment in time

    It may just look like a bright star under a galaxy, but this simple image captures a powerful moment in time that is instantly recognisable by astronomers.


    It may just look like a bright star under a galaxy, but this simple image captures a powerful moment in time that is instantly recognisable by astronomers like Brad Tucker.

    Dr Tucker studies supernovae — massive explosions that light up our universe — using the Australian National University's Mount Stromlo Observatory.

    And that bright star below the galaxy is one of the most iconic images of a supernova ever taken.

    "I love this photo of supernova 1994D," he says.

    "You see a galaxy and just this 'bright star'. But then you realise that 'bright star' is 50 million light years away."

    Not long after the dinosaurs vanished off the Earth, the star at the bottom of this image reached a critical mass (known as the Chandrasekhar limit) and exploded in a ball of powerful energy.

    "This is the implementation of E=MC2 right there."

    Fifty million years later the explosion on the outskirts of an old dusty spiral galaxy, NGC 4526, was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

    "You would never see this with your eyes, it's so bright, yet so faint and far away, which I think is the elegance to it."

    Supernovae are fleeting events lasting just weeks or, at best, a couple of months.

    "So when we look back at [this galaxy] we can't see traces of that supernova. That star has completely gone."

    "If we never saw that explosion, we would never have known that star system existed. And we would never have known that entire solar system just died."

    The beauty of supernovae

    Although the supernova looks like it is sitting by itself outside the galaxy, there are likely to be stars all around it that are too faint to see.

    "Galaxies are 3D bodies. but we see them as 2D images so we kind of miss the depth in the field."

    But that, said Dr Tucker, is the beauty of a supernova.

    "When the entire thing explodes it goes ... from something that you don't even know exists to being so bright that it is brighter than almost the whole galaxy."

    Supernova 1994D was snapped in early March 1994 in the constellation of Virgo.

    Back then, the Hubble Space Telescope had just become functional and the study of supernovae was relatively young.

    "These days a supernova with the name 'D' happens somewhere on January 1."

    "It just goes to show how many of these things are out there, and yet back in the day, only 26 years ago it took a lot of effort to find this one."

    Supernovae like this, known as type1a supernovae, play an important role in estimating the rate of expansion of the universe.

    Astronomers calculate the distance between objects by measuring the brightness of the explosion.

    Supernova 1994D was part of a small set of supernovae used to prove the universe was not only expanding, but the rate of expansion was accelerating, which led to the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of dark energy.

    "Historically, it is part of research that proved 70 per cent of the universe was there that we didn't know of."

    More astronomers' favourite images

    This is part of a series asking astronomers to explain their favourite pictures of space. Here are some more:

    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


     Other International News
     02 Jul: Coronavirus affects the blood vessels as well as the lungs. Understanding this may be key to treating it
     02 Jul: Wigan is the latest English football league club to enter administration. It probably won't be the last
     02 Jul: Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte has backflipped on his divorce plans with the US military — why?
     02 Jul: Mothers play an increasingly large and shocking role in South-East Asian child sexual abuse
     02 Jul: Wearing a mask in the United States is political, but Republicans are speaking out as coronavirus cases grow
     01 Jul: Families of COVID-19 victims lobbying for inquiry into UK government's handling of the pandemic
     30 Jun: China passes new national security law aimed at Hong Kong
     Top Stories

    RUGBY RUGBY
    Forward Leivaha Pulu is the first Warriors player to return home from their NRL vigil in Australia after his pregnant wife was involved in a car accident More...


    BUSINESS BUSINESS
    Wigan is the latest English football league club to enter administration. It probably won't be the last More...



     Today's News

    International:
    Coronavirus affects the blood vessels as well as the lungs. Understanding this may be key to treating it 17:17

    Entertainment:
    Cirque du Soleil has filed for bankruptcy 16:57

    Basketball:
    Tall Blacks icon Mika Vukona will remain sidelined for a further period in the National basketball League after suffering stomach pains 16:57

    Entertainment:
    Blac Chyna will have to pay more than $58,000 to her former landlord 16:27

    Law and Order:
    Police have uncovered an AK-47 and a submachine gun during a meth lab bust on Auckland's North Shore today 16:17

    Entertainment:
    Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, want to see an end to “online hate speech” 15:57

    Rugby:
    Forward Leivaha Pulu is the first Warriors player to return home from their NRL vigil in Australia after his pregnant wife was involved in a car accident 15:57

    Business:
    Wigan is the latest English football league club to enter administration. It probably won't be the last 15:47

    Entertainment:
    Mackenzie Davis wants to star in more comedy movies - but she's not sure if she's suited to the genre 15:27

    Motoring:
    Supercars bosses have been forced to schedule a second straight round at Sydney Motorsport Park 15:27


     News Search






    Power Search


    © 2020 New Zealand City Ltd