The exploding star spotted in the Messier 82 galaxy is 12 million light years away, but its the closest supernova to come near the earth in decades. The M82 galaxy is known for its cigar like shape; the supernova was spotted by undergraduates at the University of London Observatory looking through a telescope. The students were getting a lesson at the time of the discovery from Dr. Steve Fossey, and noticed a new star through the telescope lens.
The supernova is a type ‘la’ the brightest type of explosion among stars. It happens when the two stars known “white dwarfs” collide with another creating cosmic explosion. Astronomers think the explosion might grow even brighter in coming weeks. These types of candle stick supernovas allow astronomers to measure the distance between galaxies and calculate their distance from earth based off the amount of light the supernova produces. Exploding supernovas are such a rare occurrence, because even though supernovas are exploding in the galaxy every few seconds seeing one this close to earth that someone can see with a pair of binoculars is pretty neat. The exploding star presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for most astronomers to study a supernova this close.
The supernova has taken 12 million light years to reach us but its the closest one to earth, since the 1980’s. The supernova should be visible to people without a powerful telescope in early February by looking in between Little Dipper and Big Dipper.