M101 supernova update

By Phil Plait | August 25, 2011 6:03 pm

Images are starting to come in already of the new supernova in the nearby spiral galaxy M 101. Here’s a color image of the exploding star from the Faulkes North telescope on — wait for it — Haleakala:

[Click to embiggen.]

That’s color and very pretty, but I think this one is more impressive, showing the supernova gaining in brightness by a factor of six in a single day:

[Again, click to endeflagrate.]

That’s taken by the Palomar 48 inch telescope in California. The images show M 101 on August 22, 23, and 24. You can see (or not see in this case) how it wasn’t there on the first night, shows up on the second, and is now much brighter. It will get brighter yet, and may get into range of visibility using good binoculars! Certainly even a small telescope will be able to see this supernova once it reaches maximum brightness, which won’t happen for at least a week, if not more.

Right now, the Moon is a waning crescent, so it won’t be a problem for 10 days or so. If you have a telescope and a camera, get out there!

Credits: BJ Fulton, LCOGT; Peter Nugent and the Palomar Transient Factory

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: M 101, supernova
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