IMAGE: Wolfgang Kloehr
When a large star gets to the end of its life, it runs out of the fuel that keeps the nuclear fusion going in the centre. At this point, the delicate balance of gravity and radiation pressure (caused by the nuclear reactions in the centre) is messed up and the star explodes violently as a supernova explosion. For a short amount of time after the initial explosion - perhaps days to weeks - the supernova can outshine all the stars in a galaxy. Watching how the light of the supernova fades tells us quite a bit about what actually happened to the star.

On the 27th/28th June Wolfgang Kloehr, from Germany, discovered a new supernova in the galaxy M51. The supernova, named 2005cs, is currently at a magnitude of 13.5 but is still rising. If you have your own telescope and are in a very dark place, you may even be able to observe it. If you want to have a look, you will need to point towards R.A. = 13h29m52s.85, Dec. = +47deg10'36".3. Due to the high declination, this is mainly going to be visible to observers at northern latitudes.

Thanks to Megan for telling me about this one.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Friday 01st Jul 2005 (12:48 UTC) | Permalink
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