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Light from M82's Supernova Finds GMARS

You've probably heard about the supernova in M82 by now. Seeing supernovae from Earth is relatively common. Each instance offers an opportunity for astronomers to learn more about them, refine their calculations and calibrate their instruments. Supernovae of the type "Ia" are especially important and useful because they occur when a star reaches a particular mass, regardless of where in the universe they occur. They act as a "standard candle" allowing astronomers to accurately measure stellar and galactic distances.

When the SN is close (in astronomical terms) it makes gathering that data and refining those calculations a bit easier. At a mere 11.4 million light years, M82 is our neighbor, maybe just 3 or 4 houses down the street.

Here's a one-shot-color image of the M82 supernova from the early morning hours (local time) of 1/26.

Supernova 2014J in galaxy M82
The red marks indicate the supernova in the galaxy, M82, also known as the Cigar Galaxy.
AGO 10" f/3.8 Newtonian Astrograph, Paramount ME II, FLI ML11002-C. 10 minutes.
The glow at lower right is part of a neighboring galaxy, M81.

The supernova has now been designated as SN2014J and confirmed to be of Type Ia, which means it's an exploding white dwarf.


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