Some Dragons went out last night and captured a day-old Supernova!
Dr. Juan Cabanela, Physics and Astronomy, and Physics majors Nathan Hiedt, Laura Herzog, Michael Meraz, and Beau Scheving went out to the Paul P. Feder Observatory on the evening of Jan. 22 to try to see if they could capture images of the new day-old supernova in the galaxy M82. It turned out that capturing the supernova wasn’t even much of a challenge for these Dragons, other than the risk of frostbite in -15F temperatures! The supernova was spectacularly bright, and in only a few hours, they had enough imaging to assemble a composite color image of the event currently posted on the Physics and Astronomy department website.
This supernova, provisionally designated PSN J09554214+6940260, has been the buzz of the astronomical twitter users since its discovery on Jan. 21 as it is one of the closest supernova in recent years, occurring only about 11.5 million light years away. It was also caught early, apparently about two weeks before it will be at its brightest. At its brightest, it should be visible with a small pair of binoculars. The Feder Observatory research troupe is planning an observing campaign to follow the supernova as it changes in brightness during the next few months.