‘Extremely unique’ supernova explosion

Supernova are rarely spotted before they are already several days old and most of the debris has dispersed. But not this time.

A LONG time ago, in a galaxy far away, a supergiant red star ended its life in a spectacular explosion known as a supernova.

The light from that event took 160 million years to reach Earth where, in a stroke of luck, robot telescopes scanning the night sky happened upon it, on October 6, 2013.

On Monday, astronomers said the chance discovery allowed them to study the earliest phase of a supernova yet — just three hours after it erupted.

“We immediately knew that what we have in hand is extremely unique,” Ofer Yaron of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, lead author of a study in the journal Nature Physics, said. “We managed to observe this event when (it was) very young.”

The supernova was named SN 2013fs.

Scientists are keen to study the early phases of supernovae, seeking insights into the moments just before massive stars expire in such drama…

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