ON the 19th of May, I was taking an image of a supernova in a distant galaxy NGC 4995.
The results of that image is below.
While processing the image the next morning, I learnt that another supernova had gone off in the spiral galaxy Messier 101 in Ursa Major. The last time I imaged a supernova in this galaxy was in September 2011, but my images I took then left a lot to be desired with the equipment I had at that time.
I had to wait a few days for clear skies, but, clouds finally permitting, I got a decent image on the evening of the 24th of May, using a one-shot colour camera.
Trawling through my previous images, I had another fairly decent monochrome image taken on the 3rd of April 2021.
I have placed the two images together below.
I then made an animation of the two images to show the difference.
So what are we seeing?
The supernova was a massive star, much, much bigger than our Sun.
It has come to the end of its life, running out of fuel.
As the pressure from within the star has lessoned, the mass of the star is no longer supported.
Once this outward pressure stops, gravity becomes the over-riding force, pulling the stars mass toward the core.
The star collapses onto itself, producing a massive implosion.
The resulting massive shock waves rip through the star where it explodes in energy as the star is ripped apart.
It becomes a type II Supernova, outshining the galaxy itself, which is composed of at least 100 billion stars. 🤯
As if that isn’t enough, let’s get our head around more.
Messier 101 lies 21 million light years away from Earth.
So the supernova actually occurred 21 million years ago.
Light from the galaxy and supernova, travelling at 186,282 miles per second, is only just reaching after all that time.
This galaxy is also a relatively near neighbour compared to many we can see in the night sky.
It’ll be interesting following this over the next few weeks or months to watch as it fades back into oblivion.