Astro Blog articles for supernovae

SN2014J - the nearest supernova for 10 years!

Posted: 24 Jan 2014

A supernova has exploded in the nearby galaxy M82, aka the 'cigar galaxy', and should get bright enough to be visible with binoculars. This supernova, already given the identifier SN2014J (the 10th supernova confirmed in 2014), is a "type 1a" supernova, which we believe are caused by exploding white dwarf stars. Type 1a's explode with very predictable brightnesses, making them ideal 'standard candles' to measure distances to galaxies accurately. These type of supernovae are the cornerstone of the relatively recent discovery that the Universe's expansion is actually accelerating, contrary to previous models.

What's Going To Happen To Betelgeuse?

Posted: 18 Jan 2012

BBC Stargazing Live is great TV - but watching #bbcstargazing on Twitter at the same time makes it even more fun. A few of us astronomers have been answering viewers' questions in real time, as they wonder about the Universe with Brian Cox and company. But here's one that had me stumped: what's going to happen to Betelgeuse? Time to call SPI-MAX...

What Can You See in the Night Sky This Week?

Posted: 05 Dec 2011

The constellation of Orion - the Hunter - is now beginning to appear in the Southeast at around 8pm. Orion is one of the most-easily recognised constellations and you can spot him by looking for the three bright stars that make up his belt. Once you have found his belt, look for his sword: a triplet of faint objects dropping down to the left of his belt. The middle of these is not a star but the Orion Nebula, a region where stars are forming about 1,300 light years away. This fuzzy blob is a good spot to try and view using a small telescope.

A Tale of Two (Neutron) Stars

Posted: 25 Nov 2011

At the end of last week, one of our colleagues here in Oxford, Professor Philipp Podsiadlowski, told us that he and some others had discovered something really interesting about neutron stars: how fast they are spinning could be telling us how they were born. This discovery has already hit the blogosphere in quite a big way (here and here and probably elsewhere too). So what’s it all about? Why is it so important? I spoke to Philipp (who is one of three authors of a Nature paper about the discovery) on Monday; here’s what I found out.