It’s A Blast! Supernova 1987A Celebrates 168,030th Birthday

Reaching magnitude +3 and easily visible to the naked eye, supernova 1987A was the closest and brightest supernova explosion since Kepler’s Supernova in 1604. It made a sudden appearance 30 years ago on February 23, 1987 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located 160,000 light years away in the…
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Spinning Black Hole ‘Spaghettifies’ Hapless Star

Supernovas are remarkable events. To help you imagine one, make the sun 10 times more massive and considerably larger than it is in our sky today, let it age until it runs out of nuclear fuel in its core and then sit back in a recliner and watch it self-destruct in a titanic explosion. Searing…
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Fireworks On Earth And In Heaven

Tonight across the U.S. millions of us will be out watching the sky flare and boom with fireworks in honor of American independence. It’s also a rare night because we’ll all be doing the same thing at dusk — looking up at the night sky. Shining down from above, we’ll drop in on two stars that may…
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How Stars And The Big Bang Got Into Our Bones

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” — Carl Sagan That man knew how to make connections. A couple weeks back, we looked at how hydrogen atoms are squeezed together…
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Brightest Supernova Ever Discovered Amazes And Confounds

Last June, the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN — think “assassin”) discovered a faint flicker of starlight in an unremarkable galaxy in the far southern constellation of Indus the Indian. Hundreds of supernovae are discovered every year, but this one was different. Once it was determined the exploding star lay 2.8 billion light years from…
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