Supernova breaks the mold

Daniel is a deputy news editor for Science.

Following a serendipitous discovery in January, astronomers have been studying closely a supernova, now dubbed SN 2014J, in the nearby galaxy M82. The first type Ia supernova in 42 years close enough to be scrutinized at a wide range of wavelengths, it is providing a rare chance to find out what causes these violent explosions. Type Ia supernovae are especially important to astronomers because their uniform brightness has led to their use as "standard candles" for measuring the distance of remote galaxies. New results from observations of SN 2014J confirm that it is powered by a runaway fusion reaction, but the cause of the blast remains unclear.

Read the Full Text. (Login may be required.)

Posted in Space, Physics